Inspiration can come from a wide variety of sources. It’s a very personal thing. For Crystal Dreams, aka Joel Sutton, the inspiration for his release, Sedation, came from a deeply intimate point, one which he felt compelled to share–his struggle with mental health. “A musical journey inspired by the periods of my life when I have needed to use medication…” he states in his liner notes. Sutton’s musical therapy here consists of three tracks–an 11-minute warm-up that rings with the feel of classic mid-80s EM, a less-than-a-minute impressionistic piece, and his centerpiece, the 45-minute “At Peace,” which is truly–and perhaps obviously–the draw of the disc. The opener, “Pain,” employs the time-tested equation of using a light-but-solid sequencer line and classic synth washes to lay a foundation for Sutton’s melodies. The piece as a whole carries a gentle feel, and the clean tone and simple structure awaken memories of my earliest encounters with electronic music way back when. Direct associations play out in my head but I find myself unable to put names to them. (Emerald Web? Maybe…) Instead, I just put it in neutral and enjoy this very pleasant ride. “At Peace” takes a more minimalist approach, making do with a very soothing blend of long washes and a slowly parceled out, repeating chord structure that rises and falls. Sutton lays ample amounts of quiet detail into the flow, never loading it to the point of distraction but providing plenty for you to take in, and manages the piece’s internal movement in epochal time. The up-down chord movement stays front-of-mind as everything else works like a slow-drip soporific lulling your mind into a state of pure and welcome calm. I loop just this piece and let time go away.
On Sedation, Sutton shows two sides of his style. (Okay, three if we count the middle track, which works thematically but, for me, doesn’t bring a whole lot to the experience.) His comparatively uptempo side is bright and engaging; his drifting side is textbook ambient with a hint of spacemusic in the flow. On top of all this, he uses his packaging to bring attention to a cause that’s important to him, and points listeners to a resource for more information. Noble as well as artistic. Give yourself some time under Sedation.
Available from the Crystal Dreams web site.