According to Chris Russell, he began working on the pieces on his release Still as a way to help him keep calm and deal with stress. Which means now we have something to help us keep calm and deal with stress. Russell moves through various stages and forms of quiet contemplation, even pushing the border between calm and less-than-calm in places. This is not your standard “meditation” music, pieced together in long, cloudy pads and the occasional angelic vocal sample. It’s more active, though quietly so. “Waveless” centers around a sound like windchimes in a high breeze, their ringing tone matched with a light, organic clattering—just a touch of natural chaos at the periphery of your zen moment. It’s on “Reverie” and “Nectar” that Russell eases into the occasional sharper tone, some reminiscent of Roach, but it’s less a harshness than an extreme rise in register, a brief swirl like reflected sunlight. These sounds stand out in comparison to the mistier work around, before and after them. Of course, Russell does bring us into purely floating ambient spaces as well. “Opacity” surrounds you like warm water in an immersion-tank-quality drift. It’s a pure ambient track with that deceptive simplicity, the one that nudges your mind into a subdued state. “Placid” and the title track, which close the release, ensure that the end of your voyage is as soft and bump-free as possible. Small sounds fleck the background of “Placid” as Russell lays out swelling chords in brightening tones. Again, it’s that gentle energy off-setting the pure ambience. “Still” is a breathing exercise, one that does embrace the long, cloudy pad trope, and does it well. It carries the brightness that “Placid” laid down, and smoothes out the surfaces as well.
Perfect for quiet play, but nicely detailed in an up-close listen, Still accomplishes what Russell set out to do: offer a calm, stressless space for you to settle into for an hour. Or more.
Available from EarthMantra.