SCQ Rating: 75%
Ex-Confusion’s first release through n5MD disguises any overt relationship to the Oakland imprint’s oeuvre, perhaps because in many ways it aims at disconnecting from the greater expectations of an ambient-electronic scene inching toward the mainstream. While it’s awesome that Ravedeath, 1972, a popular ambient record of recent memory, can gather attention without compromising Tim Hecker’s compositional integrity, it still hinges on a particular discourse – namely Hecker’s approach and ethos to fractured noise as creation. Embrace, on the other hand, offers no talking points to guide our attention, instead laying flat a universe of blurred sound accessible from any direction.
Beatless and amorphous – that isn’t n5MD’s typical approach, which in turn creates much of Embrace's peculiar allure. The half-awake tonal fog of “Grass Harp” invokes up-and-coming drone artist Kyle Bobby Dunn before grasping at tangible albeit still hazy figures on the piano-led “If There Is Love” and “Sketches For the Truth”. In spite of the occasional lean toward post-classical balladry, Ex-Confusion communes almost exclusively via vapors and only his keen restraint prevents a track like “One Of Us” from floating into the ethers.
Seldom does an instrumental album ask for so few words of comment or critique but verbal praise truly feels inept in Embrace’s case. Without striving forward in any bizarre or exciting way, nor letting its ambience falter into sleepy, ho-hum indifference, Ex-Confusion creates potent clouds of emotional music to be felt and absorbed. Over these forty-five minutes, talking proves to be refreshingly counterproductive.