ZERO OHMS: Cloudwalker & the Ascent (2022)
“A beautiful album to bring on our next excursion into Morpheus' territories”
1 Cloudwalker and the Ascent 5:57
2 Unknownland 2:45
3 Vistas Beyond 7:31
4 Tum Gaon (Ascending to Higher Places) 10:20
5 Skybound (Free from Terrestrial Bonds) 9:20
6 Deep Sky Tones 5:22
7 Across the Seven Skies 6:10
(DDL 59:24) (V.F.)
(Meditative ambient EM)
You definitely have to like the very meditative ambient style to appreciate the music of Richard J. Roberts. This writer, painter, musician, teacher and producer from the Eastern United States likes to put into music the images and sensations that life, as well as nature, presents to him on a platter of wonders. Available only as a download, CLOUDWALKER & THE ASCENT is of the same mold as Process of Being, Zero Ohms' last solo album on Spotted Peccary in 2014. In the meantime, the flutist and charmer synthesized winds has worked with Markus Reuter and Numina in addition to producing 3 solo opuses on his Bandcamp platform. So the inspiration is still there, and you can hear it on this new sound adventure inspired by his move to a postcard-style village in the heart of the North Carolina mountains. The idyllic location is evident in the music and structures that take us directly into the clouds that Zero Ohms breathes every day on his excursions into the high mountains of the region. The walker in the clouds, hence the title CLOUDWALKER & THE ASCENT!
A quavering flute breathe flirts with breezes in the opening of Cloudwalker and the Ascent. The tone is set with these elements of nature invading this aria without voice or accompaniment, which doesn't take away any of its charms. Two layers of reverberations separate the tones of the flute which plays with low and high nuances in a sonic reach that lets you hear the echo that it reverberates between the immense crevices from the skies separating the sides of mountains. Zero Ohms' tone of flute follows its momentary inspiration in a recording that seems to take place outside, so much so that the sonic expanse travels like a thin line of notes ready to be seized. The nature sounds here are not without recalling the seraphic atmospheres in the title Of an Uncertain Mythos which we found on Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds, Zero Ohms' latest release on the American label that was made in collaboration with Numina in 2015. In addition, he manages to recreate in music his excursion to the high cloud-filled mountains that conceal his small village. Unknownland is a track that make works the imagination with birdsong and a very understated concerto of young flutists in training accompanying a teacher improvising a fluty jazz tune in the wilderness. Surprisingly, Vistas Beyond is the kind of track that electronic music (EM) aficionados will immediately appreciate. A stream of chiming arpeggios twinkles and twirls around an ascending bass line, creating an ambient melody over a beat very close to Berlin School territories. Winds howl behind this meditative hyper melodic structure. We hook onto it like we hook on to the most beautiful of our dreams! Tum Gaon (Ascending to Higher Places), the longest track on this album-download, is a meditative journey conceived on long flute breaths whose high tones lead us to unattainable peaks according to the concept of the Taoist tradition. Often monochord, these flute breezes have an enchanting sound range and are set against a bed of whispered breezes and light humming. Equally meditative, Skybound (Free from Terrestrial Bonds) offers more warmth and emotion with lower timbres that match the slightly upward movement of a synth shadow. If there is a door to serenity, it's here! This cohabitation between acoustic and electronic is more tangible in Deep Sky Tones. This other very contemplative track exposes the nuances between the flute and the synthesizer in a good spiritual ascensional movement. It's very close to Skybound (Free from Terrestrial Bonds) with a more dominant electronic side. Across the Seven Skies features different layers of flute in a melancholy musical vision that can make quiver a rock of emotion.
Contemplative, emotional and quite striking are the words that come in mind to describe the 47 minutes of CLOUDWALKER & THE ASCENT, an album to bring on our next excursion into Morpheus' territories. Zero Ohms succeeds in making us visit an unknown territory of the American Alps through these 7 tracks whose great quality is to have their own identity. There is no redundancy, nor a place that we visit twice in this very beautiful ambient and meditative album which is one of the more purified and less dark that I have heard from Richard J. Roberts. A soft rendezvous not to be missed if you like the genre.
Sylvain Lupari (July 7th, 2022) *****
Available at Spotted Peccary Bandcamp