Mikael Delta & Hior Chronik, The First Ray

delta_firstIn this half-hour offering, Mikael Delta and Hior Chronik lay out quiet blends of ambient and piano, then cap it with a laid-back. dub-flavored track that for me is the best part of the ride. “How to Define Existence” kicks the album off with crackling noises over pads, then laces in the piano and some upright bass that gives it a touch of a jazz aspect. That crackle comes back in “Till I Will Born Again” to give the track extra allure. Its echo-packed piano picks out a tentative melody, adding depth slowly as it goes. Fluid drones fill in the background, coming just up over the top of the piano. It’s dreamy, yet a little dark with that insectile crunching sound. “Standing in the Middle of Nowhere” is like a small string combo playing alongside piano and unobtrusive field recording drops. Though short, it is graceful and compelling. Bare boned and breathy, “I Have Everything” is a haunting piece not too far removed from elegy. It moves only slightly, with a minimal rise and fall to its string-like sounds, while an indecipherable voice intones from some far-off place. The closer, “Revival,” takes the album in a wholly different direction, as noted. With full-on dub flavor coming in right off the bat, it’s rhythmic and cool, reminiscent of the bass-heavy “electronic exotica” from the Waveform label. I could take an album’s worth of this.

One issue I have with The First Ray is that it sometimes feels like the duo decided to re-use certain elements over and over. While I like the echoed piano, the fact that it sounds so similar on “Everything We Want to Feel” and “Till I Will Born Again”–which follow each other–makes it harder to discern one from the other. The crackling sounds, as well, while they come in slightly different intonations, reappear often. Perhaps in a longer piece, it wouldn’t be as noticeable. So while similarity may pose a barrier to some listeners, tuck this album into your shuffle and the individual pieces all offer something interesting to peer into.

Available at Bandcamp from Sun Sea Sky.

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