Blue Dot Studios LLC (label)
12 February 2021 (released)
12 February 2021
We all deserve a break. It's been a hell of a year. Not a break from work, so many have been given that for the last 10 months, but a break from the anxiety, uncertainty, fear, and the daily battles that have filled this last cycle around the sun. One brief peek through our media conduit yields an onslaught of grim news and divisive vitriol. Friends and family drift further away with severed in-person connections. The rituals we cling to either banned or relegated to disconnected digital facsimiles. We've postponed our connection to a spiritual life to take care of our corporeal one. Maybe it's time to cut yourself away from the noise and impeding doom and reach for something to make you feel at one with the world again.
Atmospheric electronic producer Nicholas Gunn is nothing if not prolific. The UK-born, LA-based artist has produced and composed over 21 studio album recordings demonstrating his serene, yet evocative style. His works are often inspired by brushes with natural landscapes in stimulating locales, be it Yellowstone or Veracruz, The Grand Canyon or the Pacific Ocean. This record, with frequent vocal help from Alina Renae, focuses more on the conceptual than the beauty of landscapes. With Sound Condition, Gunn reflects on this turbulent year and offers music to suture up the cut and heal the wound. Gunn says of the release: “When I look back at this past year, we have seen absurdity on a level not experienced in anyone's lifetime. The ability to manipulate mass audiences, create chaos, and divide and infect society can be attributed to a few people in control who lack the very definition of being in sound condition. It's the antithesis of a life lived with a deep concern for humanity. A reality created only by the self-desire to suit one's own personal agenda”. Gunn's work seeks to restore this “sound condition”, repairing the damage by examining our missteps and tapping into an airy, yet grounding mantra.
Flutes emerge at the beginning of the journey like the sun rising on the savannah. Delicate piano and harp welcome you in as a breezy synth pad washes over. 'The Unfolding' takes you in, lowers your heart rate and prepares you for the road ahead. It's that moment of unbowed clarity that comes with watching the sunrise. Not yet cluttered by the day's new challenges, crisp with the new sun rejuvenating your bones, pure as a newborn.
Renae is introduced for the first time on the record by the aptly titled 'Angels'. Her voice merges with the gusts of Gunn's synths to sit loftily in the stratosphere. She sings the lullaby-like hymn of assurance, wiping away the chaos of the day. The title track's lightly tapped, verbed-out piano and percolating underpinning orchestration sits in a similar place to the American Beauty score. It puts you in a place of removed existential contemplation. Rounded tubular synths and nylon-string acoustic take the piece through to the other side, with the piano returning to bookend the thought-provoking affair. Both 'My Body Is a Temple' and the penultimate 'Flow' harness ancient eastern tones and melodics to give them a foundational gravitas that stretches back through the ages.
In these insane times, Sound Condition is a big spiritual hug. It clears away the cobwebs and gives you a comfy place to sit to realign your thoughts and let your tribulations wash away. His deep flute is a touchstone throughout, acting as Mother Earth reminding you of your place as an infinitesimal blip in cosmic time. For this dark year, this album offers a brief reprieve and a path forward to overcome it.