Bubble (aka John Sobocan): O

bubble_o“An ambient exploration of sounds and light,” says the website, and I couldn’t agree more. Designed for headphone listening but equally effective left to float in the open air, O is graceful and warm from its first note, and proceeds from there to just wrap itself slowly around the listener. By the time the first track, “Crop Circle,” has softly faded away you should be suitably calmed, if not downright sedated, and nestled in comfortably for the rest of your trip. The layers here are not deep; it’s more that each element is lightly woven through the next, given over to a short but beautiful coexistence before they make way for each other. In less certain hands this could result in a thin sound that would be unattractive. But here it lends to the gossamer quality of the music and the glittering tone. Spun through the tracks here is a lovely sense of patience. Pads stretch and notes hold and things fade slowly. It’s a nowhere-to-be feeling that’s augmented by the warmth of Sobocan’s tones and the ability to aurally “watch” these things glide and shimmer. There’s no need to call out individual tracks here; it’s all a seamless whole once you’ve been subsumed into the flow. Perhaps the pinging chimes of “Ponder” could be mentioned for the way their organic sound nudges you back to awareness, or that “Kalki” has a slightly dark edge to it, but it’s playing right now as I’m writing, and I’m quite content to talk about the release in terms of its gentle, esoteric, mildly mind-altering effect.

I question, but only lightly so, Sobocan’s choice to use some tones that border on, if not feedback, a high-pitched test pattern sound. (Listen to “Page 2.”) Although they work tonally, the effect of the sound is distracting and what I don’t want in the course of this pleasant ride is to be distracted by a comparatively harsh sound. But, like most things here, it fades off to let a new sound speak and the thing keeps going. On loop. Always on loop. A fantastic, intricate and beautiful set of works from Bubble. Listen to it now.

Available at Bandcamp.

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