And now, coming to add itself to your lists of quiet-looping, evening-coming-on, meditation-time, and headed-off-to-sleep favorites, we have Dan Pound’s Shadows of the Heart. Pound is up front about this being “… a space music album that will prevent you from being able to keep your eyes open…”, but he does slip in touches of sequencer work and the occasional shadowy change of tone, and those may help keep you awake. In fact, the opening notes of the first track, “Shadow Light,” greet you with a somewhat growling low end and a touch of drama to their rough edges. That might throw off the idea of a sleepy-time album, but after grabbing your attention with them, Pound smooths them out to set up the rise-and-fall pad structure that dominates the album. When this album gets quiet, it gets very quiet. “Night Shade” uses soft flows and pinpoint notes like single raindrops to slow your breathing and ease your mind. Crickets chirp in near-stillness during “Moon Cast,” waiting for well-spaced notes to flutter in, gather, and carefully organize into a melody. Flute and acoustic guitar step out the shadows to enhance the mystery. Its follow-up track, “Invisible Night,” enters on familiar vocal pads and sets itself up as a spacemusic piece. It has that dramatic, broad feel, brightened by moments of twinkling electronics. Toward the very end it picks up a little vibrancy with bouncing tones that play quietly in the back, which Pound carries forward into “Always There.” They become an element shining through another elegant wash of pads. The offset is a lot of fun, and Pound orchestrates it patiently, not overdoing the drop-ins of those tones, but using them as a perfectly placed accent. He pulls this trick off in the title track as well, where a light touch of sequencer bubbles under a slow-moving arc of string pads. It never takes over, just blends in like welcome ripples in the flow. I really enjoy the subdued orchestral feel the deep blend of strings gives this track.
Shadows of the Heart is a beautifully deep album, which will come as no surprise to those who already know Dan Pound’s exquisite sound-worlds. The album will definitely accomplish what Pound set out to do and get you all nice and quiet. But he’s also laced it with those “are you listening?” moments, always nicely underplayed, that will ensure that, yes, you are certainly listening yet again to Shadows of the Heart. A solid addition to one of ambient’s most consistent catalogs.
Available from Dan Pound’s web site.