Title: Under A Blanket of Stars
Artist: Magnetic Wind
Release Date: 2014 July 24
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Self Release / BandCamp
Magnetic Wind is based in Denver, Colorado. She combines synthesizers, field recordings, world percussion and organic instrumentation to create panoramic soundscapes for quiet listening, meditation or other activities. In this review we’ll take a look at her most recent work: Under A Blanket of Stars.
Under A Blanket of Stars
If I were to have an audio “image” of what I thought ambient music was supposed to be, this would be it. Based on my history with music, I always thought that the concept of ambient music was linked with the concept of “space music” that initially started the genre. (Arguably, many consider Klaus Schulze’s Time Wind to be the piece that originated the concept of “space music.) That is to say, music in which harmonies, instruments, textures, etc. shift over a period of time without having an indication of rhythm was the ideal.
As I have listened over time, many of these elements have been extended, called into question, and even challenged. Dark ambient works have tended towards minimal, darker textures. Drone works have tended towards long, drawn out sounds, frequently set against noisier elements. Noise works are just that, noise shaped into structures that might be considered music or might not.
So it’s a pleasant experience to listen to the works of Magnetic Wind, and Under A Blanket of Stars in particular. This is a work that combines synthesizer sequences with rich harmonies to create an effortless floating sensation. The title of the work brings an apt image to mind that many of us have experienced at one time or another: laying out in a field or the woods at night, and looking up at the stars and feeling a sense of awe at the universe and wondering what our place really is. And, yet there is a comfort in all those tiny pin-pricks of light in the sky, a sense that it’s vastness is covering us.
In these three pieces there is plenty of space for listeners to explore themselves and the universe that is all around. And their minimalist style allows that exploration to proceed unrestricted. There are no boundaries. And yet, at the conclusion you return as effortlessly as you left on the expedition.
Under A Blanket of Stars is the kind of ambient music that I like. It allows the listener to float away, to explore wherever their mind takes them, and return effortlessly. It’s panoramic, timeless minimal style fits with the concept I’ve held for ambient music for a long time. Other styles are fine, but this is the kind of work that reaches in and affects, just as I was affected by the experience of looking at the stars in the middle of the night and wondering about our place in the universe.