Numina: The Deception of Reality

From the opening moments of his new release, The Deception of Reality, ambient artist Numina creates a true sense of spaciousness, of a vast and immeasurable place that collects and holds sound, and then proceeds to immerse you in it. This disc is filled with big, rich pads that draw long arcs across the sky, their vapor trail remnants crossing and playing off each other. The strata run very deep here, and superbly dense, paired in places with a sense of melody pulled out to the distances, to create phrases that reveal themselves over time. The disc opens in tenuous territory with “The Illusion Transmission.” Dark curls of sound, moaning vocal samples, and a persistent bass drone lay the foundation. The movement is languid and dream-like, but the dream is dark and brooding. With his usual finesse, Numina slowly tweaks that feeling, and by mid-track the mood has lightened and lifted. The change is so subtle that you likely won’t notice it until you feel it–and that’s testament to the effect of the music.  The shortest offering here is over nine minutes long, so Numina is giving himself ample room to stretch out what’s he’s got to say, and cover a lot of sonic and emotional ground. It’s a seamless flow; the “tracks” are just index points marking time along the journey, because you will, in fact, become lost in it. Each track also has its own distinct sensibility, and the movement through them feels sensible and solid. Light and buoyant notes sing across much of “Our Elegant Experience,” perfectly airy against the thick wash behind them. As the track rolls along, Numina changes the texture of this repeating pattern, keeping it from going stale. This simple mantra of notes marks waypoints in the depths of a very mesmerizing flow. “In Cerulean Haze” takes another extended bass drone as it launching point, then widens out into broad ambient drifts, quiet and calming and quite affecting. “Empire of Nothing,” the longest track, carries on that meditative flow, but adds a more distinct touch of melody in glittering high notes. A slowly rising and falling waveform threads its way through the track like a breath. It ends with a rush of synth wind that takes us into the final track, “Translunary Return.” The character here is one of slight melancholy, borne on that wind (which packs a nice classic electronic music feel) and more vocal pads singing in a soft chorale. Once again, the layering is splendid; you can listen to it build here quite well, new elements dovetailing into the mix as the piece progresses.

Like all of Numina’s work, The Deception of Reality is a disc I would be glad to just leave playing on infinite loop. It takes on stunning dimension in headphones, and I find myself wanting to listen to it at volume. It’s got a real visceral quality to it, thanks to his excellent hand at creating textured sounds, and the emotional potency of the work as a whole is undeniable. A truly outstanding work.

Available from Hypnos.

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