Friday, February 15, 2008

Prism of Eternal Now - White Rainbow

Prism of Eternal Now

White Rainbow
Kranky Records.

SCQ Rating: 76%

2007 was not my year for finding quality ambient records. Sure, I was caught up in more beat-oriented efforts from the Morr Music label, and yeah, I missed the boat on Stars of the Lid’s apparently brilliant double-album. I’ll swallow some of the blame. On the other hand, my lack of ambient bliss wasn’t for lack of trying. As curious or lovely as releases by RadicalFashion or Eluvium may have been, it’s disappointing to bring them home and feel that hollow sensation when you slowly discover…they’re not ambient (at least, not in any way Mr. Eno would’ve agreed with, and let’s face it, he knew the term when he coined it). So while this year offered no shortage of avant-noise and instrumental albums, what I lacked was found in Adam Forkner AKA White Rainbow.

I had sold a few old records and was determined to find something to show for my newly acquired dollars. Selling old compact discs, even if you never planned on listening to them again, only feels right when that money will go towards a record far cooler than the ones you gave up. I walked in search of a record shoppe I’d visited once, but it was with a friend who led the way, and truthfully, I hadn’t been paying attention to where we were going. The Christmas season was in full bloom and by the time I found SoundScapes, I was mentally exhausted from the stress of surging, shopping crowds and the guilt of shopping for myself. And it was the first album I saw when I walked in. I pressed play and within moments was drawn to the calm, pastoral waves of ‘Middle’. A half-hour of looking at other records wouldn’t succeed in steering my interest, as I walked out with the first record I saw.

While the majority of 'Prism of Eternal Now' boasts a polished haze bordering on New Age-y, there are occasional meanderings which begin to grate on the ears. 'For Terry', the one track I wouldn't have minded being left to the cutting-room floor, noodles aimlessly for six and a half minutes and admittedly feels far longer. Luckily, the four songs to follow are each impeccable: 'Mystic Prism' combines Forkner's love for African rhythm alongside his blistering guitar work, while 'Warm Clicked Fruit' and 'Guitars' showcase his ability to loop tiny textures into subtle moods. Best of all, 'April 25th, 11:14PM' is perhaps my favourite ambient track of 2007; shy, romantic, and foreboding in a way I haven't heard since the last Godspeed! record.

Through its unhinged ambient codas and soft electronics, Prism of Eternal Now pretty much encompasses what I was hoping Fridge’s new record would be: playful but withdrawn, at peace with its melodies but always shifting focus. Its tracks run together so smoothly, you’d find it easy to ignore what a mixed bag it really is; touches of afro-beat, post-rock and electronica bridged together in a cloud of shimmering ambience that makes Christmas shopping feel calm.

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