Has it really been six years since we last heard from John Lyell? Well, it was worth the wait. His previous disc, Dimensions, has held a favored spot in my personal collection since it came out. His latest, Eternity, smoothly picks up where that left off, as Lyell crafts a fresh set of relaxed, spacey drifts woven through with easy melodies. Lyell’s signature is soft bell tones, like cosmic windchimes, that collide gently and playfully across a base of breathy pads. His layers tend to run quite deep, making these pieces ideal headphone listening. Although the disc is broken up into 10 tracks–and they’re actual tracks, not just breaks in a longer flow–Eternity has an uninterrupted feel as one piece glides into the next. To some degree this is due to a bit of sameness of sound, but that plays into the listening experience more than it detracts from it. Lyell modulates his tracks well. The lulling drift of “Vector Atmospheres” leads into the almost Eastern-sounding tones and (comparably) upbeat rhythm of “Star Seeker,” which quietly deposits the listener in the deep, lush flow of “Dreams of Orion.” This is one of the best tracks here. Lyell’s patient construction really shines through. It displaces time and just washes the listener in waves of synthesized calm. Even his most uptempo piece, “Pulse of Destiny,” has that soothing effect, largely thanks to the round tones Lyell favors. There are no edges here; just smooth curves and soft, polished surfaces. Eternity is a disc to leave on repeat. The easy and slight swaps in tempo, the cool consistency of tone, and the general feeling of spacey bliss is something you may not be able to get enough of. A very welcome return, and one of the most enjoyable discs I’ve heard this year.
Available from John Lyell’s web site.