Evan Caminiti - Meridian

by David Bruggink Rating:7 Release Date:2015-06-15

Despite having a name that one imagines Dwight Schrute would give to a band, the members of Barn Owl are capable of creating some impressively cinematic sounds. Lately, each member's solo projects have also served as excellent proof of their abilities. Jon Porras released the meditative, dub-techno influenced Light Divide last year, and now Evan Caminiti's Meridian takes things in a decidedly more dramatic direction.

Having recently seen the reboot of the Mad Max franchise, Meridian strikes me as fitting music for that type of hope-drained dystopia, though its tempos never match the film's dizzying level of activity. The album opens with disorienting bursts of static, and then moves into the dirge-like 'Curtains'; the plodding pace and the startling intrusion of distorted synthesizers conjure some kind of occult ceremony in a sci-fi universe.

Like referring to his work with Barn Owl as 'desert rock', it's reductive to describe Meridian as a mere 'electronic' album. Its sounds have an intriguing rawness to them, and the question of whether you're hearing heavily modified VST plugins, processed guitars, or analog synthesizers is often difficult to answer. Similarly, its tracks have a habit of shapeshifting - veering into unexpected caverns of distortion, gliding upwards on sharp arpeggios - making it difficult to categorize this as purely 'ambient' music.

Like a lot of ambient music, though, it does have a habit of hovering restlessly around a single compelling tone, creating a sense of melancholy that permeates the album; it achieves a particular kind of mesmering state that exists somewhere between single-minded resolve and the awareness of omnipresent tragedy. Perhaps that's why it would be especially good for soundtracking a hero succeeding against the odds in a corrupt, merciless universe.

It's worth noting that others like Tim Hecker and Ben Frost are also trading in this kind of mood. I was listening to L Shankar's gloriously uplifting Pancha Nadai Pallavi today, which uses droning sounds to very different effect, and I couldn't help wishing that such talented craftsmen of sound might expand their emotional palette.

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