The Stargazer's Assistant- Mirrors & Tides, Shivers & Voids 2x10"
I initially started writing this review as someone who has heard and loved earlier works by The Stargazer's Assistant, but was surprised and upset when I found out my computer had decided to eat the document containing my words of adoration over a new release from a beloved artist. Setting my disappointment aside, I've decided that this is a sign I should review this with a blank slate, taking this release at its own value and setting aside any other notions I could come in with. I've set on my headphones and I'm ready to begin my journey with Mirrors & Tides, Shivers & Voids.
This immersive journey begins with the song "Coral Butterfly," a piece that gently wanders into my consciousness with faint static accompanying fuzzed out piano, setting up a gorgeous yet rather somber atmosphere. Bells rattle and quieter notes blend into general ambiance in the background while the overlaying piano reminds me of something that might have appeared on Ulver's "Silencing the Singing" album. I really enjoy hearing these organic sounds dominating the musical work, as the genres of drone and ambient are often full of digitally manufactured sounds. Voices in the distance occasionally come a bit closer to either mock the listener or to enhance the sensation of losing oneself that the music so often creates. With eyes closed, I let the sounds carry me ever onward, through both bliss and the occasional moments of anxiety. The balance of emotion and sound is so finely crafted, yet the music still feels free and loose, as if this is all just some happy accident. As the songs shift, The Stargazer's Assistant maintains a sense of control, allowing the transition to be known without causing the listener to lose focus. The meditative nature of this music is so inviting that it's almost impossible not to get lost within it.
Music taking the listener on a journey is nothing new, however, I feel as though The Stargazer's Assistant has created a unique world in which almost every listener will have some sort of visual accompaniment in his or her mind's eye. Whether it's the beautiful clockwork forest cultivated by the percussion in "Secret Kingdom of the Swift" or the warm, vocal-driven loneliness of "Shivers & Voids," every song creates its own small universe in which I find beauty and sometimes fear. To say that this album creates some of the strongest atmospheres I've heard this year would be an easy statement to make, but it's worth acknowledging. For both memorable songs and heavy imagery, this album is a standout to me. If you're interested in obtaining this album, direct yourself to Utech Records and purchase this album while you're able.