The rising moan of an ominous electronic wind welcomes you to the first of several sound-worlds on Resonant Drift’s new release, Full Circle, but don’t worry–it quickly rectifies itself into a lighter and brighter thing, made of rich pads like the rising sun describing some wide open desert-ambient vista. And so it goes on this latest cross-style journey courtesy of Bill Olien and Gary Johnson. Full Circle moves in and out of quiet ambient places, most tinged with that desert feel, vast and airy and soaring, but also grinds its way through some grittier environments. Resonant Drift have always had an experimental edge that finds its way into the flow, and it’s used here to temper the journey. For the most part, though, Full Circle takes a floating, meditative course, exemplified by the so-calm movement of “And Then the Rain.” Potent pads rise and fall gently over a river of low-end drone, and glitters of electronic sound sparkle through the mix. Contrast that with the track into which it flows, the clattering and cloying “Cross Communication.” Here’s where the duo really exercise that aforementioned experimental side. This is an almost purely atmospheric track. Battered metallic sounds and the rattle of shakers vie against the same electro-wind that greeted you at the start of the disc. This is a rough-hewn track that uses its coarse edges to leave its mark before depositing you back into more peaceful places. “Ocean Migration” takes deep-breath pads and sets them to idly wander over what I’m assuming are field recordings of birds. It’s another track where the pair let fly with a broad, patient sound. The latter part of the disc works its way into some light tribal tones, starting with “Turning the Wheel of Time.” Johnson lays down melty, sighing guitar lines that have such a potent Steve Roach feel, I mistakenly thought it was him. (Roach lent his talents to some of the percussion mix on the disc, and also a bit of synth work.) Over the guitar the pair weave a snaking bass line and tangles of percussion with a very Fever Dreams sense about them. That feel carries through “Fading Memories,” barbed with a catchy rhythm and playful squiggles of sound bouncing around your head. The closing track is a perfect ambient drift, peaceful and optimistic in tone, another dose of that largeness of sound, that sense of space and beauty.
Full Circle manages to show a bit of diversity of style without straying so far that the duo’s focal point is lost. The ambient touch is always there, hints of tribal bloom into easy grooves, and even the challenging moments arrive packing a promise of something different to come. It’s a great blend that’s handled very well by Olien and Johnson, making for yet another superb release from Resonant Drift.
Available at the Resonant Drift web site.