ISOSTATIC: Earth Tones (2021)
Updated: Apr 21
“A second listen has definitely changed my perception”
1 Dawn Mist (#E9EDF2) 5:26
2 Cedar (#5E945A) 5:49
3 Seagrass (#676E51) 6:16
4 Glacier Grey (#C2D5E6) 5:48
5 Kelp (#525221) 4:02
6 Arctic Pool (#236D9D) 4:12
7 Evergreen Valley (#69692A) 5:36
8 Wood Bark (#302621) 5:58
9 Dusk (#4E356F) 7:12
10 Forest Night (#090909) 4:26
(DDL 54:45) (V.F.)
Dawn Mist sets the tone for the colors of EARTH TONES with chords thrown here and there by fingers venturing onto a keyboard for the first time. A layer of bass rises, and its droning envelops the rise of Dawn Mist and its slightly more translucent filaments that evaporate without forgetting to leave their tonal imprints hanging. A slow track with condensed evolution that has just enough room to accept chords with a sense of electronic dialect, Dawn Mist is a murky ambient track with just enough to justify a second listen. Beyond that point, it's yours! Oh, how I struggled with this latest offering from Isostatic. I'm far from Cloud Forms, although the basic idea could have made a connection. I find myself rather in a universe quite like Glacial Epoch, melodies less, where the icy coldness seems to be the one of predilection in these new poems without words from Sean Costello. EARTH TONES offers a palette of ten tracks that move with implosions resembling tadpole movements in ultra slow motion. Once again, no rhythm. Isostatic privileges the multiple derivations of its layers where sounds and crystalline moans are in constant confrontation with the buzzes which seem to suck a will of lightness from its synth layers. The universe thus becomes linear with few surprises and even less enchantments. But there are some, especially in the second half of the album. The structure of Cedar is quite like that of Dawn Mist. Its autumnal tonal colors have the grayness of bitterness. There is a nasal tone on the main synth line that gives it an appealing cachet. Much like Dawn Mist, there's this symphony of secondary chords that come and go distorting this landscape until you interpret them as leaves peeling off from all heights. Let's say that this is where I started to see the music of EARTH TONES. Seagrass offers one of those moody ballads with pensive arpeggios tinkling in reverberating masses as well as the more musical, linear ones. There is a nice dose of emotionality in this track.
I imagined Glacier Grey to be a cold color. And it is rather the opposite with dark and melancholic chords drying their reverberating effects between layers with the colors of a late autumn. It's slow and meditative with good languid effects attached to some chords that sometimes give me that humming feeling. With Kelp we reach that level where life breathes into the album. Isostatic maintains its form of ambient music with a more radiant musicality by the exodus of the layers sneaking like the journey of a spermatozoon towards more radiant zones. Arctic Pool is an enigmatic track where the steel blue of the Nordic colors, water and sky, draw contrasting arabesques that fly, float and buzz in another zephyr storm. One hears sharp points accentuating the spectrum of prismatic chants of cosmic mermaids. It's easy to be lulled by these whispers that a synth turns into astral humming. Evergreen Valley is like a saber shot in the metallic opacity of EARTH TONES. Although crossed by waves of humming, the music lives by isolated tinklings on a mystical island whose background is musical. A background that vibrates to the sound of a dark organ, playing on contrasts where the hope found in the green melts like happiness in the turmoil. Wood Bark is another very good track. Between its droning outbursts, it escapes a joyful line of arpeggios that begin to sparkle throughout a melodious walk in a wood illuminated by electronic fireflies. This melodious suite persists in shining and bouncing until the finale, defying the huge reverberations that almost annihilated it once released. The bass line in Dusk thrills me, especially because it releases chords that form an evasive melody. The track is always slow and takes advantage of that slowness to unleash some too-good synth solos that sound very Vangelis in a wispy moment that makes me slip to other solos by the Heaven & Hell composer. Forest Night exposes the first rhythm in EARTH TONES. A timid rhythm, a bit tribal that doesn't seem to know how to go on judging by its too distant jolts that bring us to a finale where a long reverberating and vibrating sigh only concludes an album that deserves a second listen, since I started to like it from Arctic Pool.
PS; A second listen has definitely changed my perception for a very nice album of Isostatic.
Sylvain Lupari (April 20th, 2021) ***½**
Available at Exosphere Bandcamp