When You Are’s introspective layers uncoil and expand as they tunnel deeper into the mind, body, and spirit. Mike Lazarev’s refrained use of piano and the more-alert, blossoming synthesized textures are on a journey, and we as listeners are along for the ride with them. Floating far out and beyond this mortal coil, Lazarev’s music is equally at home among inner spheres and the outer tendrils of the physical Galaxy.
Touching down July 1 on Slowcraft, When You Are’s gently undulating distortion is a constant presence, but it isn’t too thorny and it moves at its own pace. Sometimes ascending and at other times seeming to slumber, whatever state or mood it’s currently in, it feels alive. The restriction on the distortion is also a green light for the other textures to breathe more freely, giving them room to expand.
Overall, the sound achieved is vast and limitless, yet condensed within relatively short timeframes. Although primarily conjuring up snapshots of dark ambient, shards of light gleam from its ultra-bright harmonies, providing some warmth and tanning amid the indifferent distortion-moods. A noticeable trace of experimentation runs through the music, too, thanks to the analogue and digital synth. Magnetic harmonies are always there, lying underneath the wavering melodic lines, and it points to thoughtful composition.
An emotional side to the music is also evident, such as on ‘If I could Be Your Tears’, where a ghostly line shivers and repeats, passing through as if lost, untethered from a once-familiar world. One it used to know. These smaller pieces are all the more powerful for their brevity – never staying for long, its tears are yet to dry. In other sections, such as the penultimate ‘Absence of Elsewhere’, the piano is drowned out by an approaching, gigantic wall of synth.
In this space, chaos and calmness collide, leaving behind a powerful emotional residue. Seismic pillars of bass thrum throughout the record, while other distorted signals come and go, making When You Are solid and uniform, being as one. The music seems to go on forever, spreading its harmonic wings wide, but the sound is always connected, as are the planets in the solar system, and as is the solar system to the Galaxy. Everything relates. Everything connects. Everything is one.