The collaborators on “Epoch” are very well known in the ambient and experimental music fields. Shane Morris is fluent with many percussion and wind instruments, and hardware and software synths. In addition, he co-owns and operates Ethereal Live. Thomas Park (aka Mystified and Mister Vapor) is a prolific musician in the ambient and atmospheric genres, and he also owns Treetrunk Records and its spinoff, Complex Silence.
Aside from this release, the artists have a huge wealth of back catalogue and experience in a number of genres, and are both gifted innovators. “Epoch” is described in the CD’s sleevenotes as being the first part of an epic trilogy entitled “Inspired Evolution”. Only acoustic instruments and sounds were used in the album’s production.
“Epoch” takes us across four geological time periods, initially to the “Cambrian Explosion”. Here, the listener is immersed in almost tangible primordial dampness and heat, with deep bass and long minor shifting drones. Uncertain shapes slither off at the sides; there is a sense of breath being taken for the first time. It’s extremely compelling listening, and a lovely taste of what’s to come. “Devonia”, the album’s longest cut, lays small seeds down under long, ominous notes which furl and unfurl like sonic rope. The soundscape beguiles the listener with a keening, hypnotic repeated motif hanging in the ether above rock-solid didgeridoo drones. Organic splashes and burbles signify the changes in the forms of terrestrial life. This music is incredibly visual; it’s almost as if we are watching a film. It’s a stunning track, and one which I’ve played again and again.
The shortest offering here, at just under nine minutes long, “Triassic Extinction” represents the end of the period of the same name, where at least half of the species on the planet became extinct. The music is sad and sorrowful, with metallic rings spinning to the left and right of empty, thin drones. Tiny organic sounds flounder in a huge, welling space. When the listener considers the events the music attempts to describe, it becomes a moving piece which seems to reflect the frailty of life against gargantuan forces. It’s very thoughtfully done, and extremely evocative.
The final cut, “Jurassic Dawn”, heralds a time of positive change for the earth; we are now in the age of reptiles, which of course includes the dinosaurs. Vast changes take place in the music compared with the previous tracks. Sounds representative of birds and small mammals are here, but it’s impossible to ignore the presence of large, lumbering creatures, their heavy footsteps thudding as they roam across the ground. Open major drones hint at the potential ahead as this period dawns. There is no stasis here; the music morphs and evolves, widening out descriptively as new forms of life are introduced. The percussive footsteps of the dinosaurs provide percussion, but with no rhythm. A didgeridoo raises uncertain calls as it explores its new world of activity amongst the changing shapes of nature’s novel creations.
I have to confess I’ve never experienced music quite like this before. It would be very easy to use the word cinematic, but that simply would not do justice to what is effectively film drawn in sound. It’s an utterly stunning album, and I cannot wait to hear what the duo conjures up next.
- Baxter Tocher, EarTickles