Between his last release, Mystic River Reflections, and his new work, Midnight Sun, Peter DiPhillips has placed himself firmly in my sights as an artist to keep an eye and both ears on. The music here ranges from spacey explorations to tribal-touched pulses, with DiPhillips giving himself plenty of time in the five tracks to fully realize his visions. “Tromso” and “Soroya” start the journey with wide, spacey drifts. “Soroya” is the softer of the two, a cloud of ambient pads and soft-edged textures that spends much of its time floating in higher registers, then takes a subtle turn toward the dramatic late in the track. It’s a nicely told story and a superb piece of quiet music. DiPhillips skims along the borders of the darker side with “Mageroya,” opening with electronic gurgles and clattering curls of sound over ominous pads. He plays with a shifting sense, now bringing in beats and a rhythm metered out with a shaker, now cutting you loose in an ambient drift, now corralling wayward sounds in one small space and letting them mix. This is where the tribal sense slides in, with the shakers and slightly warbling drums, and the whole affair takes on a waking dream (one might say hypnagogic) sensibility. And just when you think DiPhillips has packed in enough sound, you’re touched by straightforward guitar notes. It’s a very cool moment. This 17-minute track is, without doubt, the centerpiece of the disc. The last two tracks, “Vadsa” and “White Night,” head back to spacier environs. The fluttering tones in “Vadsa” capture the feel of the cover photo, a glistening celestial display. DiPhillips eases a melody through the pads. There are lovely shifts of tone in here, and pads that rush up to fill the space. Halfway in it takes a slight Berlin-style turn, a sequencer line coming in to call out a subtle shift in energy. “White Night” is another deep drift, 14 minutes of intermingling spacemusic washes and passages of tribal percussion, an ideal pairing of soothing and invigorating sounds. Look at this as the lighter-side counterpart to “Mageroya,” every bit as immersive as that earlier track, and a great ending to an excellent disc. In my opinion, this is DiPhillips at his very best, and it speaks of more good things to come. Start listening to Peter DiPhillips now.
Available at Happy Puppy Records.