| Firmament:Open-Eyed Ascension|
(Velvet Empire - 1998)
Just as the ancient astronomers were fascinated with plumbing the mysterious depths of the night skies, some ambient musicians today are drawn to create celestial electronic voids of spaciously drifting sounds. Matthew Chinn, a.k.a. Firmament, is one of those musicians...
|... and Open-Eyed Ascension is one of those celestial electronic voids; its outward journey is aimed as much toward radiant starlight as toward inky unknown blackness. Glorious, spacious tones and light airy drones await.
The disc launches with the short (3:25) Eternal which positively shimmers with long streamers of electro-space drift. In a Landscape opens on sparser tones, to be shattered by an emphatic symphonic burst which extends into a long spacey drone, which is eventually visited by a medley of mutating sonic ripples. This deep space interlude again shifts before it fades into nothingness. Droning strings are overlain by slightly reverbed synth chords in Celestial Pioneers which develops a melancholy space-organ solo. Background elements build and grow, evolving into a heavenly choir. Toward the track's end, little chirping birdies (the celestial pioneers, I presume) appear...
All That Shimmers enters in a dense haze of electrons, percolating slowly while various elements are vaguely perceived through the misty night. Twisting synth streams begin to interweave through the ever-droning atmosphere, which quietens to its end. Deep strings descend to where The Soul Sleeps, a beautiful, though somber place. Additional layers of synth string and horn are draped over the piece. Entering the Crimson Nebula, one is surrounded by synthtones, occasional bass notes, quiet reverberations and a rolling electronic organ passage. The slow drift through this region reveals many mysterious sounds, artistically arranged and expertly executed.
The electronic voices of a synthetic chorus meld and shift in Forgiven Frost, accentuated with trickling xylophone tones. The long-runner (at 13:26) Transient Sun has two parts (Sunset and Sunrise) and begins with a hyperspatial drift, then suddenly picks up slow beats and electronic glimmers. An echoey space-piano plays over the burbling rhythm and dream-like, sampled voices appear. Reach features layered synth sequences forming counterpoints to one another over a long sonic sheet. This track also picks up percussive effects, though these seem somewhat intrusive. Frankly, the 7 beatless tracks work better, IMO.
But, overall this is a great debut; I can only hope that Matthew keeps up the good work. You can learn more about Firmament at its website which documents a couple other projects Matt's involved with, as well.
|For those who believe that space holds stellar lightness as well as blackness, Firmament:Open-Eyed Ascension will be a most welcome musical starflight. I've got one blissfully spaced-out Thumb extended toward the heavens!|