16 March 2020 (released)
17 March 2020
As we isolate over the coming weeks and even months and reassess the priorities in our lives, one of the positive effects may be that we take a step back from deriving all our pleasure from endless frivolous consumption and outer stimuli and instead, delve inward. For those inevitable days of quiet contemplation, there is no better soundtrack than a great ambient album.
The new EP from New York downtempo producer Proud Creature takes us on a fantastical journey through bioluminescent caverns, astral nebulas and quantum realms. Opening Creature takes bell synths, airy reverb and sedated beats to form an engrossing collection of surreal vignettes. Also known as Todd Brozman, the electronic composer once made his way around the Bay Area as a jazz pianist, the improvisational nature of which lent itself very well to the fluid, evolving nature of his compositions.
'Major Trouble' opens the album with mysterious descending tones while ethereal wisps and ghostly back chatter fill the air. Thick, rich bass and measured hi-hats welcome you into the nebulous sonic space. Brozman doesn't overplay but his years of creatively explorative musicianship are clearly evident in how the music bends and shifts avoiding the trap of repetition that beleaguers most electronic pieces. 'Discovery of the Future' lives up to its name as a track teeming with a tinkerer's curiosity. More bells like wind chimes, emerging wails and high-pitched whooshes playfully rocketing to the heavens.
After a euphoria-inducing intro, an unobtrusive beat introduces itself halfway through 'Pines' to guide the listener on their journey as a sonorous analog synth lays down an interstellar solo comparable to those on Pink Floyd's Animals album. The song's crescendo is as close as we get to a blown-out climax on this warmly reserved ambient score. 'Eastern Lines' closes out the record with similar 'fog in the background' voices and a shifting of the pads into chords of a happily resigned finality.
Opening Creature builds phantasmagorical sensory worlds much in the way a vast RPG does. You can take a good long walk around in these gorgeous ever-charging atmospheres. A great score for a good dive inward or just a cerebrally distracting soundtrack to these isolation days.