Dan Pound opens up tribal and mystical spaces on his new release, Spherical. For this outing, Pound pulls some of his sounds from an interesting source. While working on this disc, a now-replaced bit of studio equipment would sometimes play back tracks from another album Pound was working on, but at half speed. Recognizing the potential is these fresh rogue sounds, he worked them into Spherical. This, added to his usual arsenal of synths, guitars, flute, percussion and more, drives another deep and well-orchestrated excursion. Listeners with some ambient background will likely pick up distinct bits of the influence of Steve Roach in various parts of Spherical. “Only A Memory” sounds like what would have happened had Roach thought to add understated beats to Structures from Silence. Pound’s pads have a tone that’s close to identical to that disc’s, but the slight sidestep he takes with the beats keeps him in his own territory. And the title track has its share of familiar echoes, from the curvy analog squibs to the rise-and-fall backing drone. Which, again, doesn’t detract from the quality of the thing. It’s still a deep groove in a nicely carved-out electronic space. Pound’s fully in his element when he takes the listener into tribal zones, beginning with “Lookout Point.” Native American flute vies with growling bass drones and ominous pads, a nice mix of organic and electronic. It conjures up (in my head, anyway) a wonderful visual sense, a sort of man against nature feel, the flute coursing in the face of an oncoming storm. Then “At A Distance” keeps it going by ramping up the percussion with clattering sticks and throwing in dark, spiraling pads and hypnotic drones. You’ll happily lose your way in the middle of this piece, and the way it pares down toward the end, spreading into a wide vista, is superb. Pound uses this to carry into the calm swirls of “Through the Center,” the disc’s long showcase piece. (And, I admit, the start of this, with crow calls and long pads, put me in mind of part of Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces–but only until the rest of the track swept me up.) Then, unexpectedly, acoustic guitar with a bit of Spanish flair comes in, a grounding presence in the deepening space. Pound works in a bass pulse, its insistent repetition becoming a mind-salving element as he thickens and intensifies his layers. This track exemplifies why headphones are a must for this journey. As always, Pound pays laser-focused attention to his small sounds and they way they’re worked around your headspace, and that work demands equal attention from you. The acoustic guitar returns on the closing track, “Like Tears In Rain.” Here the guitar trades off with high, soaring pads in a cleansing New Age sort of mix that lifts the darker aspects away and brings the disc to a soft close.
Spherical is another great release from Pound, and one of his darker excursions in a while. He’s always been a solid tribal-ambient musician, and that’s the standout element on an overall strong set of pieces. Very much worth a close listen.
Available from Dan Pound’s web site.