I reviewed Colin Rayment’s album Continental Divide back when I was a young Hypnagogue. I quite liked it, and had been wondering where Mr Rayment had gotten off to. I can drop more than a few names of artists who hit me with one good album and then suddenly decided to go find other things to do, and I just figured he was one of those. Gladly, I was wrong. Abstract Dimensions is his fifth album (I promise not to hold it against him that I never got wind of the two between Continental and this…), and from the first few notes of the opening track, I was reminded what had struck me those several years ago. Rayment’s style is rooted in classic EM, boasting thick and bouncy low-end anchors holding it down for spacey melodies to play over, with some pretty sweet sequencer work thrown into the mix. It’s all quite large and energetic, and the robust pinging of my nostalgia centers is certainly worth a few points. The head bobbing and toe tapping starts right off with the jubilant “Skyward Euphoria.” Lead by a chugging sequencer line, it’s got a bit of a symphonic feel, quite grand and large and bright—call it a common theme here. Rayment floats in a high, flute-like melody to up the joy ante a bit. In my head, it’s like someone crossed the lines between Jarre and Oldfield, and I like what I hear. There are a couple of changes of tone to give new vistas along the journey—they work, for the most part, but I found myself feeling like I could have done with fewer shifts. “Monterosa in the Clouds” has a simple, insistent bear knocked out in bass drum, matched with soft angelic pads and arpeggiated harp notes. Quite New Age, really, and almost too light for me, but it’s a truly lovely piece with a sharp emotional through-line, and it keeps me engaged. Said engagement is almost lost at the outset of the following piece, ” Nautical Almanac,” as Rayment goes theme-heavy and challenges the ear a little at the outset with metallic squeals. If I had to guess, he’s trying to put us in mind of a rocking ship, but it’s a bit grating. The trick he pulls off, however, is to bring forward the softer, whispery elements in the back and turn the piece into a shinier, less grating, more hopeful piece with yet another chug-along line. The transition comes in on a deep bass line and a little touch of ’80s electro-pop influence. Rayment knocks it our of the park on the ebullient “Navigation of a Helix.” Opening on swirling notes and choral pads (a nice harmony of male and female voices), it slowly gathers energy and begins converting itself into a high-powered, kick-on-the-ramjets spacemusic joyride. Like a lot of similar pieces, it gets up to a good speed, then cuts the thrusters and coasts for a bit before cranking them back up for the big finish.
To enjoy Abstract Dimensions, it helps to start with a love of old-school styles, and it’s probably good to be okay with a bit of sameness. Rayment depends on that chugging sequencer on many of the tracks here, along with that spring-loaded bass tone that’s so familiar. For me, that’s part of the allure, but it’s also why I feel like I prefer the album a track or two at a time. Slap on the headphones, though, and take a good dive into the layers and skeins he runs through each track. There’s a whole lot going on, plenty of small elements holding hands to make large musical gestures. It’s all undeniably fun and likely to be played at high volume—but that’s what euphoria is all about, right?
Available at Bandcamp.