J. Arif Verner's third release on the Spotted Peccary label From a Distant Horizon blends acoustic instrumentation, samples, and synthesised sounds to create a unique sound experience. This is ambience that is comfortable in both its abstract and emotional elements. Offsetting the formless ambient passages on a few tracks is percussion by guests Mar Gueye and Jeff Haynes. Also, there are a couple of almost melodic tracks which feature a plucked guitar played in an expressive manner.
Beginning the album is one of the percussive tracks, ‘Follow the Stream Entry’. Sounds of slowly sprinkling water open up to shimmering ribbons like the sparkling peaks of a not quite calm expanse of water. Heavier sonic washes and glistening pads then continually scan across the soundscape while a purposeful thrumming rhythm keeps the tempo up. This piece conjured up the image of a small inanimate object being swept along on and under the surface of water that starts peacefully in a stream and ends up in a fast moving river. The other percussive tracks ‘Reflections in the Memory Garden’ and ‘Between the Divide’ also have a dramatic intensity underpinning them.
In contrast, the longest track ‘In the Color of Air’ showcases J. Verner's delicate, though still earnest, musical touch. Like looking through a stained glass window on a sunny day, beautiful drones of different hues sedately whistle, wash, and whisper along moving in such a way as to form an indistinct dance of sounds. For me this is the music of air and light, it's like sitting atop a small hill overlooking a pretty landscape and watching the clouds move and the light change as the day progresses.
From a Distant Horizon is the first album by J. Arif Verner that I've heard and already I want to hear his others. Listening to it is like walking through a gallery containing pictures that call to the imaginative and reflective parts of one's being. It's a must have ambient album in my opinion.
- Dene Bebbington, Melliflua