Synth Album Review: 空YAMAHA , Inner Worlds
Ethereal mental landscapes, lush and layered, are conjured up by 空YAMAHA on the Inner Worlds album. This is a recording full of richness, ambience and a palpable sense of those inner worlds that is conjured by the intertwined musical elements that weave this whole tapestry of sound together. This album does create the sensation of voyaging through those inner worlds, moving through dream states or mental imagery, carried on dense waves of multi-faceted sound.
I think it would be fair to say that Inner Worlds has a strong ambient component to it, but it doesn’t become too one-dimensional or sonically uninteresting like some ambient music does for me. There’s such a wide variety of tones, textures, timbres and musical ideas that the ambient parts of the album never become uninteresting. Instead the ambience creates a mood of introspection and a sensation of being carried on soft billows of rich sound through those inner worlds of the title.
How well an artist can evoke magery is something I always look for in an album, especially one that has dream-like qualities as Inner Worlds does. In 空YAMAHA's case, the imagery is clear and sharp. The music is able to potently illustrate various sensations or mental pictures through a mixture of melody, harmony and tonality. Just closing my eyes brought such vivid images to mind as the music unfolded around me.
There is an ethereal quality to the production on the album that helped to contribute to the overall feeling of exploration and journeying through dreamscapes. There’s an expansive feeling to the tracks, as though they are full of air, light and space. 空YAMAHA has found a sonic canvas that allows for a full range of expression and that expression is important in making the album work.
Another element that I enjoyed on Inner Worlds is the range and variety of instrument and percussion sounds. I felt that there was a “world music” component to the album in that there were sound reminiscent of percussion instruments from all over the world as well as some synth sounds that reminded me of various sorts of stringed instruments, especially ones that have the flavour of East Asia in them. My ears were kept interested by all of that variety!
As is my habit, I’ll take some time out now to talk about the tracks on the album that made the most impact on me and why I felt they had that impact.
Right off the bat, 空YAMAHA had me hooked. The first track “Celestial” begins with the lush ambient sounds of a night forest. A synth with a rather unique timbre comes in and is soon joined by a beautiful flute-like sound that has those “world music” overtones that I noted. This is a calm, rich track full of wonder and open vistas. As the synths wash through, they paint a cosmic image. I think of seeing the sky through a break in a canopy of trees, the music wheels and spins like galaxies unfolding across the dark sky.
The chiming, bell-like sounds that start off “Void*” echo out into space. A synth airily glides into the track, playing soft patterns of notes against that spacious background. A pulsation of bass flows into the track, alternating lower and higher tones with a string-like effect. The melody is played on a high synth that carries over the serene background. All of the sounds spread outwards like gravity waves, carrying on into space endlessly. Layer on layer of rich sound is built up like paint on a canvas, adding shape and depth.
“Mysterium” is a very calming and relaxing track, but not in any way boring. Dark bass moves under high, light synth sounds. A fascinating stringed instrument like sound carries the melody on, adding a new dimension to the music. The melody has “world music” like elements to it, reminiscent of many traditional musics from across the world, specifically East Asia in my view. I was definitely seized by a sense of mystery on this track.
The final track “Exit Clouds” is an excellent way to leave the album. It starts off with rising and falling arps that establish themselves as a synth sings out a warm melody over their patterns. A driving beat comes along to add more energy to the music. The lead synth here plays a triumphant melody that is full of good vibes and positivity. It was a good choice to finish the album on a high note in my view.
As an exploration of a detailed, complex and ethereal inner landscape, Inner Worlds created a wide variety of moods and images. This is an album that works both as a calming, serene way to unwind as well as music that has detail, beauty and depth which invites more thorough exploration. I am excited to hear what 空YAMAHA comes up with next after having listened to this album.