Album of the Day: Pariah, “Here From Where We Are”

It’s hard not to see the current wave of ambient music as a reaction to an ever uglier and more uncertain world. Certainly, there’s been a move from many people in the club world into producing purely textural music, the kind that feels like a bath for the soul. The template has been set by the New Atlantis collective in London, with a whole set of musicians from in and around the London bass world making songs that are unapologetically blissful and New Age-inspired. Now, Arthur Cayzer, who records as Pariah, has followed a similar trajectory, moving from dubstep and grime to enveloping beatlessness on his latest release, Here From Where We Are.

Formerly a punk and hardcore musician, seduced by dubstep into making complex bass-heavy electronic constructions, and latterly the producer of austere techno as half of Karenn with Jamie “Blawan” Roberts, he apparently hit a bout of writer’s block before realizing that he could solve his problem by ditching his drum machines and letting these airy concoctions flow over, under, and around the block. The opener, “Log Jam” perhaps describes that creative block itself: it’s the one piece on this album that feels solid and weighty, its intense chords chugging like turbocharged Steve Reich. After that, there are two modes: tracks like “Pith,” “Conifer,” and “Here From Where We Are” float suspended on sustained chords, as if willing time to a standstill. The rest of the album is airborne, tumbling on eddies of arpeggio, reminiscent of the 1970s ambience of Steve Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Musick, or the ‘90s space exploration of Pete Namlook and Mixmaster Morris’s Dreamfish. Just as with the New Atlantis output, there’s no edge to this, no irony: plenty of emotional depth, sure, including some intensely sorrowful-sounding passages, but nothing that undermines the embracing tones and enjoyment of the prolonged moment.

-Joe Muggs

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