Will Bolton’s ‘Cumulus Sketches’ follows on from 2014’s Bokeh. Continuing on in a deep ambient vein, Cumulus Sketches blends analogue synth with rural and urban field recordings, which were taken in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka. Will Bolton’s latest excursion captures the atmosphere of the East, with its glowing synths producing cool, dusk-stretched melodic monuments which reflect nothing but a fading light. The synths bask in the afterglow of the day; its setting sun is a fireball, burning against the backdrop of the sky until nothing but the blackened ashes of the night remain.
Cumulus Sketches is immediately expansive, with spread-out, immersive melodies and an oriental atmosphere. In general, the music is tranquil, restorative, and healthy, and the tracks are given time to properly develop, feeling more like fully-grown pieces and less like the sketches of its title. The blurred effect of reverb only adds to the dream, making Cumulus Sketches the perfect soundtrack for cloud gazing.
The silky-smooth ‘Lavender Layer’ is just one example of its divine ambient nature, and once again listeners will be reminded of the unbreakable connection between nature and ambient music. One can almost visualise a lush woodland, with chirps and tweets filtering into the record, creating an additional chorus as the birds call down from the tips of treetops, appearing close but also echoing from a distant branch.
‘In Flight’ is also a delectable mix, merging more of a human presence with tranquil, dripping synths. Despite the urban field recording, it manages to retain a relaxing core, and its essence remains calm even in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Just like the aforementioned birds, movements and other sounds seem distant even when they’re up close and personal. It’s the same effect as the former track, but in a very different setting, reinforcing the belief that barriers don’t exist within music. It’s all about context. The same effect can be achieved either out in the open country or in the middle of the city: inner peace, inner calm. After all, the clouds don’t shy away from one or favour another. They can be found in both settings; all one has to do is look up.