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Murals for Immersion

05-22-2024 | By Michael Mercer | Issue 133

Kenneth James Gibson & Paul Carman, Murals for Immersion

I'm not convinced that any words of mine could so aptly describe this record as its title manages to do: Murals for Immersion. And because of this, I feel morally obliged to perhaps break the online literary book of laws, and also begin this music review with a heartfelt "fuck you" to both Kenneth James Gibson & Paul Carman. For what you might ask? For making this particular job, one of writing this album review, more challenging outta the gate. Such an intuitive title from the artists themselves! Imagine that. OK enough prosy posturing... Let's dig into this spaceship of syrupy ambient goodness. I got one in fellas! I got one in. Okay back to business...

But just when I wanted to put on my serious reviewer cap and listen, these bastids start this record with a track entitled "Finding New Language." They might as well just review the damn record themselves. They'd be far better at it, but I'll give it a shot finally: "Finding New Language" creates this vast, misty hovering soundscape, like the top of a pyramid seemingly cascading through a passing sheet of clouds, while its the clouds that are actually moving. It's easy to imagine a scene in one of the Blade Runner films with this album's opener. The low bellowing cry of what sounds like a huge synthesized shofar kicks off "Selective Noticer," continuing to build this expanding, yet sparsely lit landscape. It's a dark desert night out there. The title track: "Murals for Immersion" continues this sonically hazy ebb and flow, dimly lit to dark sway, with pockets of light and this slow-motion buggy buzz floating in the air. Picture the planet Alderaan in the original Star Wars movie (now considered A New Hope to all generations who came after us Xers) when Obi-Wan Kenobi first meets Luke Skywalker. It's a space age cavernous desert. That's the vibe here, and it's magnificently pitchy too (meaning: not distracting at all, but rhythmically meditative—captivating). The fluttering speed, and the slow, gradual stereo panning of the transient elements of "four corners" makes for an ever-flowing atmosphere; yet it can almost appear still. Like the sensation of lying on a grass field, eyes fixed to the moving sky above. We get some space age horns on "Above Suicide Peak" (or at least they sound like horns—blowing over sand dunes). "Tonio Between Two Poles" sounds like what the opening credit music for the upcoming Dune film should sound like. I think Carl Sagan might've been reincarnated in one of Kenneth James Gibson's or Paul Carman's modular synthesizers. 

The spaciousness is, perhaps, the most delightful thing about Immersion. It's so wide and long it's, for lack of more contemporary terminology: wildly stereoscopic! This entire record, actually, is just straight-up sci-fi cosmic. Now granted, that could be said for a lot of ambient music, so that might sound like a short cut to thinking, but in the case of Murals for Immersion it fits. Some ambient music is more earthy/nature-like in its production and/or presentation. You can get a feel for the organic-ness of the soundstage, picture crickets or daytime pink noise. Gibson and Carman managed to make this music so textural, like a fuzzy sonic sweater that's warm and cozy in all the right places, that it doesn't need to sound inherently natural or synthesized. It can just freakin' be. This is mood music for the zendo. It's not the sound you pump when you wanna jump around in your whip (or, your car, for those of you older than me). I just absolutely love it. Oh, right, I also just blew my supposed objectivity there too by the way: sue me. I said it, I love Murals for Immersion. This record is so glacially atmospheric—it's liquid and airy, static and serene. If that sounds like the kinda ambient music you'd enjoy I can't give this album a higher recommendation. It was so inspiring it forced me to get back on this damn keyboard and pound away to share about it. That may sound too personal for an album review: but it's honest, so that's all I can do.

And by the way, considering all this sci-fi talk while attempting to describe this record: for fellow fans of the latest Dune series (based on our beloved original from the eighties): Murals for Immersions' release date of May 31st also feels like a little ping from the universe, as the new Dune is out on the 1st. Coincidentally, that was the first thing that came to mind upon my first spin: The last Dune film—not knowing the new one is around the corner until after I started writing this piece. Those endless deserts of Arrakis? You'll find them right here; on Murals for Immersions. Happy Listening.

Release Date: May 31st