John Sobocan, Features of Spheres

Crickets chrip. A gentle sound rises like wind-blow fog. Shapes emerge. And so John Sobocan begins to craft around you his minimal, mesmerizing and immersive work, Features of Spheres. Sobocan works from a base of drones and atmospheric sounds, a mix that gives the pieces here depth and character. The atmospheric touches can be simple and soothing, like the night-sounds in “Silence” (which swirls like water, eddies of tone working in endless spirals) and the birdsongs chittering around an expectant air in “Leaves on a Forest Floor.” Or they can be a touch more challenging, like the metallic clank and clatter at the end of “Brother” or the doppler-like string runs punctuating “Ma.” They all add a distinct touch to their respective tracks. Sobocan’s drones are also varied in character and feel. The rasp of the foundation sounds in “Brother” contrast with the softer, hypnotic gauze of “Purple Stretch,” the breezy, paper-thin chords blowing through “Leaves…” or the big, held-breath pads with a pipe-organ timbre in “Glow.” Moreover, Sobocan is clearly mindful of the effect small movements create within a drone structure. He uses it cautiously and effectively to create moments of awareness and kinesis. Purists might argue that this isn’t drone, per se. It does have more overt textures and moments of solid sound, but much of Features of Spheres is like a long exhalation, largely unchanging and gorgeous in its lack of movement. But then you’ll come across a track like “Driving My Mailbox,” with fingerpicked notes, heavy atmospheric icing and a thick, well-layered variety of sounds at play. The more and deeper I listened to Features of Spheres, the more I heard and the more it really took hold of me. A perfect looping disc that doesn’t wear out. It’s original enough in approach and diverse enough in execution to keep a listener well engaged. Features of Spheres is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.

Check it out at Soundcloud.

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