We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Improvisations by Zomes (out now on Thrill Jockey)
Press play if you like: Contemplative, trance-inducing deep listening zones in the tradition of Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, and Oneohtrix Point Never; music that approximates the sensation of staring intensely at a wall, but in a good way.
Some background: Zomes is the solo project of Philadelphian Asa Osborne. He used to play guitar in Lungfish, a post-hardcore outfit helmed by hobo-poet and uncompromising outsider Daniel Higgs, with whom Osborne reconnected last year for the stunning collaborative album, Peer Amid, with Swedish experimental-rock group The Skull Defekts. On Zomes' 2011 release Earth Grid, Osborne exploited rudimentary keyboard sounds and drum loops to build short instrumentals out of simple melodic transitions and skeletal, head-nodding beats. It was unmistakably poppy, but the sort of pop you'd expect to hear soundtracking an NES game (like Castlevania). On the three-track, 33-minute-long Improvisations, Osborne banishes the beats, keeps the keys, and spaces-out with extended drones and extra-minimal rays of melody that materialize, vanish, and circle back around. Some might call it “background music,” but others will find in Improvisations the continuation of the spiritual odyssey initiated on albums like Alice Coltrane's Journey In Satchidananda.
Try this: This seven-minute clip from “No. 1” begins the voyage with a dense, looped wave texture as swirling patterns of notes bubbling up to the surface―fragile, playful, calm. Close your eyes. Breathe deep. Dive in.