Resonant Drift throw something of a feint at the outset of their new release, Passages. “Summons” rises up boldly on big pads from Bill Olien’s synths and thick chords from Gary Johnson’s guitar before a body-seizing tribal rhythm lands in the midst of it all. It feels as though the duo are preparing to take off on the tribal track they hinted at in their previous release, The Call–but this is just a preparatory pulse, something to open your mind and spirit to the flow. Because Passages exists more on the quiet side of the Resonant Drift spectrum, a collection of tracks that move easily from quietly meditative to darkly experimental. The duo set their course quickly–after the potency of “Summons,” they move into the more hushed environs of “Departure.” Johnson’s guitar picks its way gingerly and with a light jazz touch through a mist of ambient chords that usher it along. But don’t get comfy–at this point it’s time for the two to give you a glimpse of their darker, abstract side with “At First Threshold.” This one is all feeling and impression, grim drones and dissonant side-sounds describing some point between here and the other side. There’s a hold-your breath quality at work here. And this is the formula for Passages; Olien and Johnson take you into reflective spaces for a bit, then pull you back across their more challenging sonic borderlands. This is best shown in the combination of “Beyond the Vision,” “Crossing the Threshold,” and “Two Worlds.” “Beyond…” is one of the quieter tracks, a perfect ambient offering that’s warm and enveloping, built on a dense fog of synth pads. “Crossing…” is thematically perfect, with rumbling bass drones, a processed didgeridoo wavering across the sound and a distant cry that feels both invocatory and imploring at once. Winds rise, darkness falls…and then it’s into “Two Worlds,” another safe haven of sound (which, it must be said, is all too short for something so lovely). The movement between tracks is flawless; it has the sense of a well-planned journey through the various spaces created. Passages closes out with “Transformation,” the longest track at 11 minutes, another classic, layered ambient flow. A strong low end anchors floating, wind-pushed chords as the listener coasts calmly to the end of a superb CD from Resonant Drift. Well worth the repeat listens it will certainly receive. Olien and Johnson simply get better with every new release.
Available from the Resonant Drift web site.