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Ryan Summers

F51.01

Review by Gary Hill
This album is being billed as "ambient music." I think that's a disservice to the music here. Ambient sound is something that's easy to ignore. It's music that fades into the background. This definitely does not do that. Yes, it's electronic. Yes, it's instrumental. No, it's not really progressive rock, but it is progressive music. It's also very cool.
 
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Beneath the Ice

The keyboard textures on this are lush and quite beautiful. This music is so pretty and so expressive. Yet, it's slow moving and gradually evolving. It would be wrong to call this "ambient" because there is so much passion and melody here. This should not be considered background music.

Clock Works
Percussive elements bring about a feeling befitting the title. Noisy bits of keyboard texture create a dark and industrial soundscape. There is something ominous about this. Although it does get more melodic later, it still remains quite percussive.
Power Relay Unit
Trippy sonic elements open this with almost a space age symphonic texture. The cut grows gradually rather like some kind of science fiction film soundtrack. It gets into some trippy electronic territory. There are some processed spoken voices almost as incidentals in the piece later. This is rather unsettling and dark as it continues. I'd say that the movie has turned the corner from science fiction to horror as it works through.
Well Tuned
Echoey music with a lot of world based elements at play is the idea as this begins.
Phi
The title of this song is actually the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet (Phi). The Music Street Journal interface changes it to a "?," though, so I had to spell it out as "Phi." Strange title or not, this piece is an epic at about ten and a half minutes of sound. It evolves very slowly with waves of sound seeming to gradually increase, coming in and back out. It makes me think of a tidal influx, slowly lapping further and further onto the shoreline. This is spacey electronic music.
Music Box
Mysterious and ominous, this does feel like a music box. The only thing is, it's a music box in some kind of dark dream or nightmare horror story. It turns outward toward space as it builds. It twists into insanity as it winds down at the end.
Solenoid
This is another that feels like soundtrack music. It's a space exploration film that turns dark and creepy. This transitions very gradually, but it's unsettling in its waves of sound.
Native Warning
This is noisy with a driving tuned percussion element amidst waves of keyboard textures. This really feels a bit like some kind of bizarre machinery powering up as it continues later.
Logos
This is arguably the most mainstream thing here. It's pretty and textural. It's not my favorite piece of the set, though. To me, if anything here qualifies ambient background music, it's this piece. That said, it does make a satisfying end to the disc.
 
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