Let me put it to you this way: I was in the middle of another round of listening to Andrew Lahiff’s Inner Worlds Returning, and during the first track, almost like an involuntary reflex, I reached over to my speakers and turned it up. Later, I did it again. Because in the middle of this set of lush ambient flows I was stricken with the idea that I wanted to feel even more enveloped in the sound. I needed more of it, stat. This doesn’t happen often. Lahiff’s new release is loaded with big, layered ambient drifts backed with atmospheric sounds; this is the musical equivalent of laying in a wide open field at midnight and taking in the full arc of stars, the night sounds around you, and a sense of deep-reaching calm. Lahiff manages to give his music a broad scope while keeping the feel incredibly intimate. The sensations that the music pulls up are uniquely yours, but this is the sound of a vaster thing, a communal spiritual point. And, yes, this review borders on hyperbole, but there’s the effect. From the vast feeling and vistas evoked in the moving “Almost Dawn in the Valley” to hushed and meditative flow of “Echoes of the Harmonic Canyons,” this disc reaches down and finds something personal to stir, something very much you to awaken, and at the same time expresses something tribal, binding, bonding, to turn it into a shared experience. Lahiff keeps his pieces warm, touched with light tribal percussion in places that plays neatly off the various natural sounds lurking under the music. It’s a masterfully restrained blend; Lahiff can create a bit of narrative tension with a subtle change in tone, and relieve it just as simply, all without so much as rippling the sound-pool. This is a superb low-volume loop, the silken sounds melding effortlessly into the backdrop. It also, as I said, takes on a robust vitality when turned up. Headphone listening reaps superb awards. My only comment outside of praise is that some tracks cut off a bit roughly; I almost wish this had been worked into a seamless flow. This, however, is minor. Fact is, Inner Worlds Returning has been getting a lot of repeat play at Hypnagogue; I expect that will be the case for many listeners. If you haven’t discovered Andrew Lahiff yet, let me suggest you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Start here, then go deeper. There’s a lot to enjoy from this prolific artist.
Available from Relaxed Machinery.