Soundician Tranquilicity [Self-published] Soundician first appeared in 2001_16, and now the Johnson duo return with a new album of melodic ambience which refines and focuses their sound. ‘Freefall’ and a sequence of rising scales, string bass, shimmers and shakes, balancing downwards spirals – dense aquatic propulsive layers. Another slowish rhythm in ‘Cherryblossom’, synthetic animals call, voice washes and long strings while tingy percussion takes the melody in eastern directions. ‘Adrift’ starts with sounds that could be sites – bells, a rumble – then slow echoed tones, spirals beep, similar piano, layered and restrained, there is a nostalgic mood as it drifts along. Organ pulses form strata for ‘Slow motion snow’ created by Japanese strings, tones and a haunting note reminiscent of a bowed saw. Directed drift again in ‘Leviathan’ whose hollow tone and slow piano swims through a deeper undertone, encircled by ringing skittering and rumbles. A swirl of bubbling keyboards surrounds ‘Glides’ melody. Within the context ‘Kradle’ is minimal and experimental as a deep tone slowly steps with a higher (sax) over it, lightly touched by voice tones, and yet achieves a classical feeling. Again, synthetic animals call through ‘Canopy’ as a threatening deep, shakers, echoing burbles and melody build, the tune dancing and flittering while the threat remains below. A tching rhythm loop and bubbling synth underline the melody of ‘Starfish’ while a thoughtful piano steps through the zinging. And finally ‘Waltz No.3’ builds through harpsichord, washes, harps sweeps and finally piano in a swirling dance. This is not a threatening or difficult album, but it is up there with other albums of music to be enjoyed for their beauty and pleasure – with some hints at darker undercurrents and a complexity which allows new elements to be discovered.
SOUNDICIAN Tranquilicity Soundician (2003) On their second release, the duo of Kit and Odette Johnson (who record as Soundician) continue to show their affinity for crafting inviting, accessible songs that traverse the ambient, melodic EM, and new age genres with amazing ease. As was evidenced on their previous CD (The Beauty is Knowing…), these two display a knack for integrating melodic sensibility with more overt electronic music elements to yield short (the longest track here is four and a half minutes long) yet sweet selections that alternately twinkle, shine, float, bounce, and soar. To my ears, no one else is making music that exhibits the same kind of cross-genre hybridization with such a high a degree of quality and sincerity. Soundician are both unique and talented. The album opens with the liveliest and cheeriest number, “Freefall.” Immediately, characteristic Soundician elements surface: high quality electronic keyboards, catchy refrains, and a certain “sparkle” to the music itself. Kinetic rhythms, both synthetic and also ethnic (sampled water drums), pump out a snappy beat while a eight-note refrain repeats in the background. Other whirring spacy synths zoom here and there, along with isolated echoed synth notes. It all adds up to a fun cut. Another rhythm-infused song is next. “Cherryblossom” introduces a sound that will surface again on later tracks. It sounds like the happy-go-lucky song of a robin, albeit played out on an electronic keyboard, of course. It’s extremely playful, and when wedded to a gentle but insistent midtempo rhythm (on snare, bass, and cymbal) along with soft synth chords and twinkling keyboards, the result is both fun and pretty. That word, “pretty,” while usually shunned by artists when describing their music (for some reason I’m still unclear of) is an apt description of Soundician’s unique music – it’s pretty. However, it’s not the “pretty” of syrup and sugar. There’s more substance here. However, there’s no denying that songs like “Slow Motion Snow” (with koto-samples, shimmering keyboards, and waves of electronic undercurrents) are, well, pretty; or, if you prefer, even beautiful. The simplicity (it’s well-engineered but not overly dense or ultra-complex in the mix) of Kit and Odette’s music cleverly hides their attention to detail and their devotion to fashioning tunes that convey a true visual sense. The appropriately-titled “Leviathan” has all manner of “underwater” elements and textures: sonar-like reverberations, wavering fluid-like tones, a slow but deliberate sense of undulation – and when you least expect it, forlorn guitar (or sampled guitar). “Glide” gently soars on soft airborne currents, as portrayed by layers of ethereal synths and Kevin Kendle-like keyboard notes. “Adrift” (one of the slightly dark tracks on the CD) contains elements of classic spacemusic (echoed synth piano, synth washes, plucked string keyboards) and easily conjures up a sensation of floating through either the Earth’s atmosphere or the cosmic backwaters of the Milky Way. While hard core ambient music fans might turn up their noses at the overt sampled-flute keyboard on “Kradle” or the obvious classically-influenced “Waltz No. 3” with its synth string section and harpsichord, those who enjoy both melody and electronics will find more than a few gems to ponder and examine onTranquilicity. From the catchy rhythms of tracks like “Freefall,” “Cherryblossom,” and “Starfish,” to the traditional ambient textures of “Adrift,” “Leviathan,” to the hybrid tracks like “Canopy,” Soundician shows that The beauty is knowing… was not a fluke, but instead was a mere appetizer with many more sonic delights yet to come. email@example.com SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC!
Soundician Tranquilicity 3 stars CD-R, Self-Released 2003 “Tranquilicity” is the last CD of the duo until now, with again a special melange of rather challenging ambient music. “Freefall” offers an inviting welcome, followed by the laidback and light atmosphere of “Cherryblossom” with a great melody that runs the surface. “Adrift” is a piece of traditional ambient music with distinct, soft dwelling soundscapes and echoing piano-keys, and the same style also applies to “Leviathan” (although a certain underwater-feel is apparent). “Glide” is an airy piece of music, taking the listener on a 3-minute journey above the clouds. “Kradle” is a different story with its penetrating, sampled flute sounds, and a bit harsh to my taste. “Canopy” takes a dive into ambient textural landscape, but also features some remarkable sequence patterns. “Starfish” is a nice, rhythmic track giving an almost happy feeling again, before “Waltz No3” concludes the album in a classical way, but also carries a vague traces of the soundtrack “Bilitis”.“Tranquilicity” offers something for every fan of nowadays ambient music, so make sure to give this CD or soundbites of it a listen.
Bert Strolenberg -SonicImersion – Tranquilicity (2003)