Album of the Day: Wave Temples, “Isle Enchanted”

The Florida musician who records as Wave Temples—whoever they are—has chosen an apt name for their project. The first thing you hear on Isle Enchanted is the sound of foaming waves, closely followed by a keyboard line that mimics the sound of a tropical pan flute. Enchanted follows a string of similarly coastal LPs—Sleeping Tortugas, In the Shade of the Island—and its primary concern is not having any primary concerns. The two 15-minute compositions that make up the album drift by dreamlike, consisting of little more than ocean sounds and synths that ripple like the aurora borealis. Where his labelmates on the LA-based Not Not Fun bend and distend synths to create distinctly unsettling worlds, Wave Temples is more serene than surreal.

But what makes Isle Enchanted so engrossing is the way Wave Temples uses repeated patterns to hypnotizing effect. Nine minutes into “Part I,” the landscape suddenly shifts from a simple, two-note lullabye to what sounds like digital windchimes caught in a strong breeze. The tight cluster of notes repeats over and over, ocean roaring behind them, neither gaining nor losing strength. The net effect is weirdly calming, the twinkling keyboards becoming as regular and expected as the next heartbeat. “Part II” is even more translucent; the ocean keeps going, but the synth lines sound like they’re being played in a grotto far below. There are no sharp edges to the sounds on Enchanted; everything is low and flutelike. The album ends with a simple, five-note melody plunked out on what sounds like a computerized kettle drum, the space between each note big enough to contain a whole other song. Isle Enchanted doesn’t command attention or dazzle with complexity. It simply invites you to disappear inside of it for a while.

J. Edward Keyes

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