Sam Rosenthal, The Passage

You’ll have to forgive me if I seem a little foggy. I’ve just spent an hour floating around inside of Sam Rosenthal’s The Passage, and it can take a while to come back to reality. Stepping off from a 16-minute Black Tape For A Blue Girl song from 1999, The Passage sends the listener on two quiet journeys, one 45 minutes long, the other a 10-minute combination wake-up call and mental palate cleanser. Together they create a space cut off from time, minimalist drones coursing in warm, fluid waves that completely envelop the deep listener. I’m sure this disc sounds fine as a low-volume loop, but put in the headphones, keep it a little on the low side, and it becomes a long, calming, therapeutic brain massage. Rosenthal lets his waveforms roll forward, transformations in tone coming slowly–more like a subtle change in temperature than any sort of sonic shift. He seems content to set his layers in motion and let them decide where to go next. You will get lost in here, make no mistake. When the first 45 minutes have glacially eased their way past, you may only become aware that you’ve moved into the second track, “Rae,” when violinist Vicki Richards softly makes her entrance. “Rae” is lighter in overall tone than the title track, a lazy spiral of sound moving upward, bringing you back to an awareness of your breath, and fading quite perfectly into a well-deserved contemplative silence. The Passage is a perfectly constructed piece of drone ambient, a comforting swath of negative space to retreat into to just exist in the sound for a while. A superb offering from Sam Rosenthal.

Available from Projekt.

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