Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds

Numina / Zero Ohms

Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds


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About Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds


1   Secrets of the Treasure House of Stars

2   A Day Without Time

3   Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds

4   Night of the Falling Planets

5   Of an Uncertain Mythos

Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds finds veteran ambient electronic sound explorers Numina (Jesse Sola) and Zero Ohms (Richard Roberts) joining forces for the first time to embark upon a vast new deep sonic voyage through a solid hour of time-shifting, free floating, pure ambient spacemusic.

Fueled by Numina’s rich synthscapes and the dreamlike wind-instrument textures of Zero Ohms, Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds looks to the heavens, setting the listener adrift upon a deep cosmic sea.  Billowing textures, serene and occasionally foreboding passages, and abstract washes of full spectrum sound set the stage for a mesmerizing voyage through the awe-inspiring wonder, beautiful isolation, and staggering immensity of infinite interstellar vistas.

Furthermore, these two skilled sound sculptors successfully manage to go the extra distance, turning the focus inside-out to highlight the inner space of the mind in a surprise twist ending that gently releases the listener at a profound and unexpected destination.

Leading this tranquil trek through the heart of the universe and the mind, Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds is true spacemusic in every sense of the genre; soundscapes, simultaneously intimate and interstellar, that expand the boundaries of imagination.


In the name of full disclosure, I will admit that when I saw that Numina and Zero Ohms had joined forces, I made a happy sound. I have been following and admiring both artists throughout their careers, so the idea of these talents merging sent me into a bit of ambient-music-lover overdrive. Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds is pretty much everything I expected: a lush, deep, far-reaching journey built on Numina’s synths and Ohm’s electronic wind instrument. It is also exceedingly quiet, reveling in an underplayed, droning breathiness that sets the mind drifting. This is the music you want playing quietly in the background as your night winds down, and it’s music you want whispering through your headphones to take you as far down as possible. While the music is crafted in gossamer wisps, there is still ample movement, dynamics, and detail. Ohms’ flute rises in places, deliciously organic and solid amid the flow. The opening track, “Secrets of the Treasure House of Stars,” is about the “biggest” piece here, the one with the most up-front presence. The duo bring it up from near-silence and guide it toward a great spacemusic feel, a classic sound of big-yet-soft pads floating off to some distant spot and a well-balanced hint of drama. “A Day Without Time” brings the flute and EWI toward the front and truly sets us drifting. The pads here move nicely in your head, rolling gently back and forth like waves and every bit as lulling. From here, Broken Stars… gets very quiet, more of an insinuation of feeling than a conscious listen, its strong moments not intrusive enough to bring you back to the surface but able to stir something in you. The title track has its breathtaking moments, but manages to do so just through some shift in harmonies, or the brightness of a chord. On “Night of the Falling Planets,” the duo nudge us toward darkness, but even there we watch from a distance, still adrift and unconcerned, as it rolls in and we watch it make its way past. This track hits a point of sparseness that show how much these two can do with very little, and that they know when to bring the ride back around. A nice piece of drone-centered work. And then, as if to welcome us back from this very deep journey we’ve taken to elsewhere, we arrive at “Of An Uncertain Mythos.” This is an interesting surprise, so I won’t reveal it here—trust me when I tell you that it pays off, and its drastic departure from the tracks before it feels actually quite cleansing. Soft drones are at play here as well, with long notes from the EWI playing quietly in the background. It’s an unusual choice, but they make it work.

Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds needs to be given its looping space. This is where it really thrives, its softness quietly expanding to fill your space. Its emotional core comes through at any volume. Of course, headphones will just augment the intimate feel of the album. Regardless of how you listen, this is a must-hear. Numina and Zero Ohms are a perfect pairing and they have created a standout album. Look for this on your “Best of 2015″ lists. I guarantee it’ll be there.

- John Shanahan, Hypnagogue

At hand, a floating soundtrack to mysterious dreams, a journey through deep space, or a walk on a pillow of clouds down the endless spiral of consciousness along the translucent fence. Will I ever tire of such things? I don’t think so, especially when the work is crafted at such a high level as this. Both Numina (Jesse Sola) and Zero Ohms (Richard Roberts) have individually created numerous recordings using whatever resources they have to mold whatever sounds are needed to meet the necessary ends. It only figures that when these two masters collaborate that the result will be far greater than the sum of the parts. Using a wide variety of woodwind instruments, wind-controlled synthesizers, processed guitars, and electronics, as well as field recordings, Zero Ohms draws from a wide palette of sounds that, combined with Numina’s skill with synthesizers, acoustic instruments, and sound sculpting studio techniques, create stunning explorative soundscapes that simultaneously focus energy inward while infinitely stretching the boundaries of the imagination. Five long tracks guide the listener through an hour-long journey that gently crosses interstellar panoramas and spacefolds that shimmer and flow, sparking the imagination on waves of melodic color, shadow and texture. The sounds are warm, soft and comforting, so much so that when the last track ends the silence is cold and deafening, drawing your finger toward the replay button to repeat the experience over and over.

- Peter Thelen, Exposé

What can we say of more music about the music of Zero Ohms? Just like in Process of Being, “Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds” is made of air masses in continual movements. Winds, textures of winds and some more wind where the American flutist, and afterward synthesist, manages to extract abstract some abstract melodies which, as the course of clouds, take dreamlike forms. This time, the sculptor of wind teams up with another artist renamed to pull out forms of mistral of his synthesizers; Numina. The result could only give an ambient album. A very quiet album where both bards to poems drawn from the murmurs of the trade winds are proposing an hour of rejuvenation which takes all its dimension our ears well shielded from the external bad weather. In a good headset!
"Secrets of the Treasure House Of Stars" begins this symphony for breezes and winds with a somber droning wave which entails in its furrow some fine particles of zephyr. It's like a long reverberating strand which drags sibylline harmonies blown a horn of trade winds. It's quiet. Very quiet! Zero Ohms and Numina unite their windstorm shadows which eventually form masses of compact still harmonies where the singings of the winds are blowing such as the sighs of fallen angels. "Secrets of the Treasure House Of Stars" evolves very slowly. A little as a cloud of magma on a flat ground which spreads little by little its mass. Only the lamentations of Zero Ohms' flutes succeed in piercing this dense compact sonic task which little by little abandons its passive crescendo for a finale more ethereal. "A Day Without Time" is the least disturbing track on “Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds”. Although dark, the winds are always dark here, the lamentations of Aeolus are intimately attractive. The movements are linear, as if the winds had no obstacle, paving the way to a subtle seraphic choir. The title-track makes its winds squeak in a sibylline meshing where, all blows gathered, we have the tiny perception that Gabriel on Earth to even the score. But beyond this total apocalyptic blackness, some fine angelic fluty voices lull and balance a cabalistic approach which wraps our ears of a strange uneasiness. There is a lot of ambiences in this track where winds roll like waves in every corner of the firmament. But not as much as the very dark "Night of the Falling Planets" and its calm winds which draw an approach more cosmic than esoteric. "Of an Uncertain Mythos" starts with a concert of sparrows of which the singings caress the crepuscular breezes. The winds are warm and the moods are a little bit more serene, although we feel a threat becoming perceptible everywhere. The dark breezes make singing the leaves, creating a duet of improbable voices which remain all the same rather attractive. If the winds are always trying to knock down the serenity of the longest track of “Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds”, they remain however rather serene, even musical by places, still showing this fascinating fusion between the electronics and the acoustics in an album which listens to eyes riveted on our past.

- Sylvain Lupari, Synth & Sequences

A complementary release to Time Being's is Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds, the first collaborative effort by Numina (Denver-based synthesist Jesse Sola) and Zero Ohms (Richard Roberts). Once again the material sends the listener on a voyage into deep space, and the hour-long ambient recording is likewise epic in scope; in addition, field recordings of the natural world figure prominently in the eighteen-minute closer, “Of an Uncertain Mythos,” to locate the recording firmly on earth. But there are differences, too, foremost among them the instrumentation involved. While both artists are credited with synthesizers (wind-controlled in Roberts' case), Zero Ohms also plays flutes and bass flutes on the recording, and it's these woodwind textures that help distance the material from Time Being's. With the gentle lull of Roberts' flute playing audible alongside delicate, synthetically generated exhalations, “A Day Without Time” stands out as an especially tranquil meditation.

One's ears perk up six minutes into the opening “Secrets of the Treasure House of Stars” when high-pitched whistlings rise above the immense, string-like washes that unfurl in seeming slow motion. Yet as serene as Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds often is, there are also moments of a more unsettled nature. A sense of foreboding creeps into “Night of the Falling Planets” when low-pitched tones rise and fall like the breathing of some physical colossus and prismatic accents play off the music's surfaces like sunlight reflections. Another thing that differentiates Broken Stars Through Brilliant Clouds from A Place To Belong has to do with tone. For an album that thematically deals with the vastness of space, the understated character of Sola and Roberts' music comes as a bit of a surprise. There's a serenity and calm to the music, as if the two were more interested in evoking the quiet grandeur of the spheres than overwhelming the listener with extreme volume and dynamics.

- Ron Schepper, Textura

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