J. Arif Verner does indeed travel the spaceways in his follow-up to A Vision Beyond Light. He traverses a drone zone that’s more crystalline than dark, with melodies that wash up like random ripples on the sand of a wave-lapped seashore.
Through the TimelessJ. Arif Verner
J. Arif Verner is one of the most talented electronic minimalists in the U.S.A. Through the Timeless is the first Spotted Peccary release of the new millennium and it is a classic. Verner blends minimalism, space music, atmospheres, symphonic synths, and new age sensitivity to define a pure hybrid that is uniquely native to America. This CD absolutely caps the Spotted Peccary quest. ‘Pure hybrid’ sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not. Verner makes this soundscape his own. By pulling those styles together he sets a new standard. That standard assures him a seat in the perpendicular universe. This CD will appeal to fans of Liquid Mind, Alpha Wave Movement, Constance Demby, Lisa Lynne, and Suzanne Ciani. It is an instant classic.- Jim Brenholts, AllMusic.com
After an opening glissando of evanescent synthesizers that make you think Captain Kirk is about to intone, ‘Space, the final frontier,’ J. Arif Verner does indeed travel the spaceways in his follow-up to A Vision Beyond Light. He traverses a drone zone that's more crystalline than dark, with melodies that wash up like random ripples on the sand of a wave-lapped seashore. Only the title track, with its tribal percussion, rises up to the level of groove. Verner brings some interesting touches to his slipstream: a shofar's horn announces ‘The Calling’ and acoustic guitars are set in bas-relief on ‘Within the Portals.’ Zither player Laraaji appears on two vaporous tracks that are based around his echo-delayed ostinatos (a short, repeated phrase). Triggering many of his electronic sounds with a guitar synthesizer, Verner has a natural arc to his melodies. There are many New Age synthesists working with the same materials as J. Arif Verner, but in his hands, it sounds less clichéd. He doesn't extend the form, but he brings a craftsman's hand to it that's often lacking elsewhere.- John Diliberto, Amazon.com Editorial Review
J. Arif Verner's music is full of the ‘sense of wonder’ which is the hallmark of successful spacemusic. Although not connected with any planetarium show or ‘program,’ this album suggests starscapes, galaxies, and open skies, as well as more earthly scenes evoked by the sound of ocean surf – which, forsome reason, doesn't sound like the cliché it usually does in this kind of music.
Verner's playing, both on synthesizers and on guitars with some percussion, is firmly based in the ‘psychedelic’ or ‘mind’ rock music of the Sixties and Seventies. This is the rather ‘intellectual’ kind of playing, especially on the guitar, that you could hear back then from people like ‘Spirit,’ ‘Country Joe and the Fish,’ Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane, and some years later, Greg Lake of ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer.’ The harmonies are resolutely modal, borrowing from this type of rock as well as from folk music, though there is no actual ‘folk’ element in this album. He has help from a team of other percussion players, and in two cuts is also accompanied by the celestial zither-playing of ‘Laraaji.’
One of Verner's virtues is his variety. He can approach a sound with a driving, Euro-rock-style rhythm in some pieces, and then in the next cut can melt back into delicate traceries of guitar and reverb-soaked mystical synthesizer chords and twinkles; he's not afraid to play softly. He also adds in some science-fiction style electronic special effects. One of my favorites is where his synthesizer zooms up through the harmonics sequence, an effect he does in cut 5. Nothing in this album is dissonant or difficult – this is music for comfort, not challenge, a light touch rather than a ponderous weight. If you like dreams, drifting, timelessness, and soft infinities, this is the album for you.
By the way, though only 9 tracks are documented on the album cover, there is a little extra tenth track, a short musical afterthought, placed about 3 silent minutes after track 9.- Hannah Shapiro, EER