Jon Jenkins:Flow

jen-f.jpg Jon Jenkins:Flow
(Spotted Peccary Music - 1998)

Come to where lush sounds evolve and, indeed, Flow. Jon Jenkins adorns almost 74-minutes with these 11 tracks, a tasteful melding of shapeless ambient drifts, Native American drums, and piano arrangements. Ambient electric guitar is seamlessly added to individual tunes by several contributors as well.

A distant rumble comes...From The Spring. Synthstreams pour as subtle textures emerge from the river of sound. Half-hidden voices and instrumentation are suddenly, drastically sucked through some vortex and Into A World Of Wonder where piano overlays an ambient stew. This track exemplifies the beauty with which Jenkins merges multiple styles; the piano, though somewhat disparate, doesn't seem out-of-place, riding on Jenkins' synthetic waves. The track segues into the appropriately-named Flow which wafts and wanes on currents of synth which are dappled with faint musical shadows. A magical shimmer breaks the soundstream, but it slowly, drop by drop, rebuilds, and with strings and unobtrusive beats, regains a sense of majesty.

Guest Jeff Pearce contributes ambient guitar washes to Night Drifting Through Black Canyon where nightfall brings a hushed splendor via soft breezes. The piece quietly fades, and from that near silence Cross Over emerges and grows, piano notes becoming stronger and more active amidst a swirling background mist. Extra helpings of throbbing tribal percussion (initially soft, then more powerful) stir the sonic atmosphere of The Power/Washed Away; eventually the beats relent and the rays of light synth float and soar, finally vanishing in subtle degrees.

Repiratory in title and nature, Breathing In The Deep rises and falls in a vast aquatic realm. Truly lulling, the main theme is accentuated with occasional glints of electronic light. A delicate melody is blurred, yet preserved, like a leaf within amber in the short (2:37) but lovely A Word With The Vine, which segues into Blood And Water. Again hazy, but enchanting, synth patterns dance within a mist, until a strong, clear rhythm dispels the murk, allowing all to shine, until it recedes again.

Part Of The Solution (16:38) is a three-part construction. Quietly simmering layers swell into life. Gorgeous, billowing clouds of sound swirl and dissipate, in lighter, then darker phases. Muffled percussion fades in, eventually surging in power. Chanting cries are distantly heard as the track reaches its crescendo, then fading back into the mists. To counter the flow, there must be an Ebb; this one is peaceful, gentle, resonant in its own tranquil lightness. Drifting toward closure, becoming silent long before it's actually gone.

Some of the instrumentation may lean toward a New Age sound, but the free-flowing nature reigns supreme. Flow marks my first exposure to sounds from the Spotted Peccary label, and I must say I like what I hear. I'm hoisting Both Thumbs... Jon Jenkins' and friends blend of ambient liquidity has been quite personally satisfying for me.2 thumbs up
This review posted November 26, 1998

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