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Max Corbacho: The Ocean Inside

January 12, 2013

maxc_oceanI happen to live not far from Geoff Small, a partner in the Relaxed Machinery label and an evangelical Max Corbacho fan. I had to drop something off at his house recently, and I mentioned that on my drive I was listening to Corbacho’s latest, The Ocean Inside. He asked me what I thought of it, and I could only reply, “It’s…big.” And so it is. Over the course of two discs and nearly two and a half hours, Corbacho creates immense and immensely calm spaces out of full, sighing synth pads. The tones are warm and welcoming, the movement is gentle and fluid, and it’s mere minutes before you are completely lost within the sound. Corbacho is looking to express “the analogy [of] the mind as an ocean, with constantly changing waves at the surface, and the inner stillness and silence at the depths.” Done. The constant motion is there in the shift and shape-change of the pads; the stillness is there in you as you go deeper into this lengthy excursion. The Ocean Inside is not a release that does anything particularly new with this brand of ambient, this massive, floating construct; it just manages to do it magnificently well. There are no jolts or mis-steps in the two-plus hours. Slight tonal shifts, more attitudinal than anything else, move you through its various phases without ever straying far from the disc’s hushed intentions. Track listings are a mere formality here, as each moment dovetails smoothly into the next. Once you’re inside it, you’re in for the full ride. This is a work that’s perfect for meditation and for true ambient listening. While there is an incredible depth of detail at work, even a passing listen, letting the sound quietly fill your space, is enough to engender a reaction–a deep and personal reaction. Putting either disc on loop is recommended; putting them both in one playlist and looping that for hours on end is even more highly recommended. Max Corbacho has been patiently improving his ambient craftsmanship for years, and The Ocean Inside finds him at perhaps his absolute best. This is a must-listen.

Available from AD21.

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