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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

orchestramaxfieldparrish - Instant Light [Faith Strange - 2016]

Experimental ambient guitarist and composer Mike Fazio has been playing and performing for decades now, really coming into his own during the 2000's with a profific string of soundscape albums under a variety of aliases on his own Faith Strange label.

Since the release of "Crossing of Shadows " in 2007, Fazio hasn't released any music under the orchestramaxfieldparrish alias, focusing on other aliases like A Guide For Reason and Sonic Arts Society, as well as putting out several albums under his own name.  While there may be thematic ideas behind each alias in Fazio's mind, generally I find his style remains reliably consistent.

He tends to create a sort of tonal soup, a free rhythm soundscape fashioned from heavily processed instrumental noodling, awash in glints and glimmers.  It is resplendently resonant, wet, and glowing, tuneful at times, but almost completely impromput and unstructured.  It is also immediately emotionally relatable, a sort of mournful, weary peace, with occasional brooding excursions into paranoia.

Fazio chose to resurrect the orchestramaxfieldparrish name in 2016 with two new albums.  "Instant Light" is one of his most quiet and abstract works, in which his guitar is not immediately obvious.  it is also one of his most complex and varied, new sounds emerging from the corners and crevices at a constant pace, completely transforming the ambient environment every three or four minutes. The improvised feel is diminished on this recording, which is highly composed and layered.

There are the mesmerizing sounds of bells, and natural recordings cleverly intermingled with their digital imitations: crashing surf, rain, and distant thunder.  In the 2nd piece, I hear the soothing halcyon chords of dub techno, warmly flickering from behind a membrane of thick honey.  Angelic, choral pads swell and surge out from the deep.  I am reminded of the ethereal consonant zen of early ambient pioneer Iasos.  As such, this is one of Fazio's most peaceful and contended albums, in contrast to the "Interiors" album from 2013 under his own name, with its brooding sampled musings about death.

The 3rd track feels much like classic 90's downtempo with its dreamy two chord alternation, taking the yearning tonalities of house and chillout music and floating them in an endless expanse, scrambling the rhythms into a mild flickering and shifting.  Fans of Ishq or Vladislav Delay would likely enjoy this, as they have done a similar thing.  Fragmenting the notes into scintillating tiny shards and refashioning sounds from the particles, the result is something of a tuned cloud.  Are these obliterated chords sourced from a synthesizer, a guitar, or something else?  With Fazio, it's impossible to tell, as digital processing is his forte.

There are no lapses into pure silence as one might find on an A Guide For Reason release. An airy drift underlying the entire piece, an infinite reverb contrail.  Each of the three lengthy tracks begins with a return to field recordings of a thunderstorm.  The bells from the 1st piece are reprised in the 3rd.  There is a great thematic unity to the album as a whole.  The album ends with a receeding siren wail, which lasts nearly ten minutes.

This is one hell of a beautiful space trip.  It might even be my favorite Mike Fazio album, and I am a longtime fan.  It is an ambient recording with astonishing textural beauty, compositional depth and complexity, engaging from start to finish.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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