Patience is a virtue. Adrift by Ebauche is an album four years in the making. Some of that, I imagine, was time spent gathering “…location recordings from…Kirirom national park and ancient temples of the Angkor Wat….the breathing waters & wild winds of the rugged northern coastline of Ireland; and the dark & ancient forests of the Carpathian mountains…” Alex Leonard takes these sources and kneads them into eleven tracks that are deep, layered, and immersive. He infuses each of these vistas with their own character, from soft rolling waves to edgier forms laced with implied beats. “Kirirom” blends sound recordings from the park noted above with electronic washes and crystalline notes that sparkle like sunlight through the trees. The tone is bright and soothing. Field recordings on “The Suspension of Consciousness” whisper in our ears as Leonard spools out a hypnotizing minimalist drone with just enough motion to keep a touch of dynamism going. Voices pop out of the misty flow in places, just loud enough to get the attention and then gone before we can make much sense of them. The longest piece on the album at 14 minutes, this one takes you out of the real world for a bit. It eases into “Warmth” to take us even deeper. Light crackling sounds pepper the edges here, and the field recordings make us feel like we’re off in the trees somewhere, far from the path and just taking it all in. “Cover Before Nightfall” pulses and glides itself into a smooth rhythm. Chime tones lend a feel that’s both meditative and exotic. Close your eyes here and listen to how much is going on. The atmosphere is full of flitting sound. It’s very much alive. The energy reaches an apex on “Gonglaing.” Percussion and a chorus of repeating motifs come together with an extra touch of joy; the sound here is uplifting and shiny. It just feels good. On the harder side, “Focal Stop” builds on static and crackles and turns itself into a buzzing sonic barrier in its three-minute span. “Resin” is another noise-oriented piece; listen closely to hear voices lost in the white sound. A slow melody plays out in wavering tones beneath it all. Adrift is at its absolute best in headphones. Up close, the density, subtlety, and attention to minute detail really shines. It works in the open air as well, but my best listens to it have been when I’m able to take in everything that’s going on. And it’s a lot. This is an album I’ve been glad to listen to many times over. It just gets better the more familiar you become with it. Adrift is a work you must hear.
Available from Ebuache’s web site.