Layers of floating ambient guitar are waiting to caress your noggin on Souls, the new release from Chords of Orion (aka Bill Vencil). The overall feel is light and quiet as Vencil slowly coaxes long strands of overlapping tone out of his guitar and effects. Each expression is fairly short, with 11 tracks in an hour, but they float together without any real bumpa, giving the overall impression of a long, single listen. Vencil blends the more ambient work with pieces built around more distinguishable sounds, making for a dynamic mix. But it’s the pieces that sigh and yawn in light rise-and-fall cadences that are the draw for me. On these, Vencil takes a melody and pulls it out to graceful lengths and infuses them with melancholy. Tracks like “In Heaven, It Is Always Autumn” (which is a fantastic title), “Ruler of the Night” and “The Distance Between God and the Creature” show this style off really well. Vencil also throws in some nice treatments as well. “Ruler…” glides from ear to ear; the notes in “Distance…”waver with tremolo and skirt over the top of what sounds like field recordings of water. “Dismiss Your Servant In Peace” plays with long-held tones bordering on feedback laid against a virtually unmoving bass drone beneath it. The contrast is excellent, and it feels like you can hear Vencil literally wringing the notes out for all they’re worth.
At times, Souls can feel like it’s shackled with a bit of sameness. After repeated listens, however, I’d say it can instead be considered to lend to that sense of this being a mostly continuous flow. It doesn’t get old, thanks to a lot of very good small detail work, but it’s come up in my mind more than once. Even so, Souls is a pleasure, and works very well tucked into a larger mix. Vencil’s playing is beautiful. His focus on letting the resonant sounds that arise from his delay effects fade and cross to create fresh, lingering sounds is perfectly executed. Check this one out.
Available from Bandcamp.