Phillip Wilkerson and Jourdan Laik return in their Time Being guise to escort us through the spacey ambient expanses and subtly nuanced topography of A Place to Belong. An excellent blending of styles moves this release along; meditative passages and quiet melodies are given equal say, as are light and dark. The album opens in what is, for me, a much darker tone than I expected from Time Being. “The Wind Has Called” is not dark ambient, but it is built on a heavy low end that enters with full dramatic force, big, single notes of it like ominous footsteps. The duo fade it down to reveal a broader, lighter ambient space—but those first few minutes definitely catch the attention. A dramatic swell at the end reminds us of the tension. At that point, A Place to Belong settles into the softer side of its mix. “From Where We Are” brings in piano to maintain the balance over more of those bass-loaded drones (while also hitting a sort of Steven Halpern vibe). “State of Being” is a lush ambient coaster, packed with high-soaring pads and a particularly potent emotional content. Then there’s a shift as “Farther Worlds” heads into an appropriately star-filled place reminiscent of your favorite spacemusic pieces. It’s a deep ride with many small elements at work. Again there’s great dramatic use of bass here, pulsing in at certain points like we’re bringing the engines up. Then, when we drift, especially in the closing moments, we rid ourselves of gravity. Everything comes together in the mid-length closer, “The Infinite Home.” We open in a melodic, orchestral place that rises to a bombastically dramatic swell that drops us off into the sound of the ocean lapping softly at the sand. I’m a trifle distracted by the reverb that’s put onto the water sounds. It makes it almost too artificial. Still a nice touch. Melodic ambient pads take us to the end.
A Place to Belong does what a sophomore effort should, following a good debut: it ups the ante. Wilkerson has long been one of my personal favorite artists, turning out consistently superb work. In Laik he finds a partner who gets his sensibilities and then amplifies the overall effect with his own excellent contributions. This is a duo I truly look forward to hearing more from in the future.
Available from Spotted Peccary.