Posted July 18, 2016, Hypnagogue Reviews
Just based on time and circumstance, I have listened to the debut release from 21st Century Bard (aka Sam Bardin) somewhat more than I usually do for a review. And while I haven’t minded the multiple listens, I also find that it’s never left a deep impact on me. It cruises along from the spacey churn of “125.36±0.41GeV,” and while it could be considered a good thing from an ambient music standpoint, this fairly hushed track melts into a back-of-mind thing before too long and it’s not until I’m a few minutes into “Dali-esque Tundra in Darkness” that I become aware that I’ve moved on. That second track suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It starts out wanting to be a guitar piece — or at least one that takes a lot of interest from its guitar lines — then eschews that and focuses on its undercurrent of warbling synth notes and abundant electronic twinkle. And while the latter half is fine, the sharp rawness of the guitar sounds are what work to make this piece stand out. Bardin locks me in for a while beginning with the slow floater “Influx of Waves.” It’s straight-up spacemusic, built on oblong pads and ample spatters of electronic starlight. It eases into the catchy minimalist groove of “Quantum Escher.” This charming piece chugs along on a repeating line, with vocal-sample song lines rising to the surface here and there. I like that those moments are kept brief, and just lift the emotion and deepen the experience for a few moments.”Liquid Dynamics” brings me in with appropriately watery, wavering weaves of sound. Bardin uses light clattering noises, hollow like glass spheres tapping against each other, to add texture.
There is some interesting work on this album, and it certainly deserves a listen. The downside for me is that I didn’t find anything particularly compelling here. It’s well-made enough, however, that I am quite likely to check out what 21st Century Bard has to offer next.