Jason van Wyk’s fourth full-length album, Threads, arrives July 23 on n5MD. Over its forty minutes, the South African ambient musician develops and ushers in a wide and yet stylistically-uniform tapestry of tones and textures. A healthy dose of reverb spray-paints the surrounding air, and sudden, blooming sounds repeatedly try to enter its atmosphere, not so much aggressively invading as wanting to actively engage with the music.
Some stronger tones break through unexpectedly, and it makes Threads a slightly jittery album. A jangling of nerves or some other nervous energy is present, its live, quivering wires adding to an ongoing sense of uncertainty, which keeps the music on guard and somewhat stressed; the music provides both a cathartic outlet for and an exacerbation of the feeling. Undercurrents of anxiety are present, and although the music is pretty to look at, little spikes of unpredictability litter its musical serenity.
Lambent light seeps out of its drifting music until it surrounds the world. For the majority of its journey, Threads is allowed to float away, but a steely, inner weight remains, and it can’t be dismissed or ignored. Its notes never feel flimsy or easily breakable, and that’s thanks to its extra layers of security. The extra stability flows from its many, heavier tones, which snake around in the background. Sometimes, they reach up and claw their way forward, creating internal pressures and giving the music more in the way of muscle. But this never overpowers the ambient nature of the music, which lingers throughout the running time like a strong perfume. Sure, Threads is a record of supreme beauty, but it’s nestled among shards of unrest, and that’s what makes the album such an engaging work.