Prolific ambient composer Dan Pound sets out to capture the grace of jellyfish in his latest release, Medusazoa. He hits the mark, but don’t expect this to be just a long stretch of burbling, fluid pads of balletic invertebrate motion. They’re here, and the first three minutes of the opener, “Liquid Body,” would have you think that’s the case, but then, quietly, Pound begins to fleck the surface with pinprick hits of percussion and we’re off into interesting territory. There’s a mix of textures at play on Medusazoa. Microbeats, backbeats, sequencer rhythms, guitar work and more find way into Pound’s pieces here, and everything glides into place without rippling the waters. There’s a feeling of balance to the flow; “Liquid Body,” with its microbeats, melts slowly into the classic ambient track, “Under Her Spell,” which then opens into the tick-tock’ing sequenced start of “Living Fossil”–but under the rhythm are slow-moving pads. So each new step comes off as a sensible move and nothing is jarring. It all works. The title track contains an interesting blend of sounds. A poky piano melody one-notes its way around synth structures for a few minutes, then takes a short break while Pound gets a little dark. Watery sounds gurgle underneath. A beat rises up and the piano returns, all the elements landing in a strange but intriguing meld that eventually fades into very quiet drones. Pound breaks out his Fender Strat in the 14-minute “Tentacles,” mixing processed chord cries (very Roach-like in their feel) with patient, straightforward playing. The backdrop, shadowy and a trifle tense, offers a counterpoint. “Bioluminescence” comes back to a basic-feeling waveform ambient motif, rising and falling pads set alongside angelic chords. The closer, “Currents,” has a watery shimmer accented with electronic bubbles, a warm flow that brings the listener back around to the start. Should go without saying that Medusazoa gets played on loop. It’s a great wind-down listen, offering more than just standard ambient constructs while still packing that spacious/spacey feel. Deep listens are amply rewarded, but Medusazoa is also one that should be allowed to fill the space. Another superb outing from Pound.
Available at Dan Pound’s web site.