American label Thesis have just released an overview of their recent output. Falling under the umbrella of their Subscription Series, this overview collects together four collaborations from four separate projects featuring some of the most well-known ambient and modern classical artists around: Tony Dekker, Great Lake Swimmers, Kinbrae, Angus MacRae, InsaDonjaKai, Anna Rose Carter, Dag Rosenqvist, Julianna Barwick and Rafael Anton Irisarri are all contributors.
Bending synths bleed into Julianna Barwick’s saint-like vocals, drenched as they are in a swimming, translucent pool of reverb. Twinkling keys walk beside the lapping reverb, tentatively dipping their toes into its open waters and thus creating a slow whirl of echoing ripples. Although the atmosphere differs considerably as the listener moves from one track to the next, the general tone is light and carefree throughout, but that doesn’t make the music shallow. On the contrary, the tracks are infused with a deep level of introspection. Later tracks descend even deeper: on ‘Himmelgeist’, the piano’s mysterious air adds a cloak of intrigue as the air becomes colder and the strings stand as tall as pine trees in an October-lit forest. A piano wearing an icy dress will arrive later, its breath a ghost of a thin, white vapour, a winter cloud of dialogue puffing up and out of a cartoon character’s lips. Even as it shivers, the music is speaking, whispering quietly, with every note from the piano like a call in the dark, creating phrases which then become airborne words, sentences, conversations. So far in the subscription series the piano has been the dominant instrument, and that trend continues here. It doesn’t take on this mantle reluctantly…instead, it feels like it should be this way.
Despite the gathering mystery, the music on this overview retains a warm, harmonious glow, its notes illuminated by orange tongues of flame and the dusky embers of a campfire. The music doesn’t have a dislocated, discordant bone in its body, and that leads the overview to contain nothing but low-key, remedial music.