The resurgence of New Age and ambient music that has proliferated on Bandcamp has been both a blessing and a curse for those looking for a soothing audio balm for the aches and pains of the modern world. Some flourish under the veil of anonymity, while others have taken their sound to the masses. Along the way, you knew the bottom was gonna fall out; the bubble was going to burst; and this shit wasn’t going to be cool for much longer.
Oakland’s Inner Islands has intersected with the “stoned synth jams” set, but Sean Conrad’s bustling label challenges the listener with sincerely meditative, restorative sounds. Conrad’s own Earth Magic Life Celebration is a prime example of the positive vibes being put out by the label. The most recent tape, Crown of Eternity’s Dream Architecture, veers between calming ambience and quasi-spirituality without the trappings of irony or parody. If you look at the duo, you know this isn’t a fad for them. They not only create albums centered on an arsenal of gongs, but they teach classes aimed to “expand your relationship with the healing and harmonic resonance of the gong in a way that is transformative yet liberating, playful and creative.”
Dream Architecture is a subtle listen, as the duo contrast soft, silent spaces with resonant rings of their instruments. This work requires an attentive ear and, preferably, a stereo set up in your living room and a yoga mat on the floor, to let this tape unfold loud and clear. Make no mistake, this is no new age for beginners. It may take a few listens to appreciate what you’re hearing, but to get away from this cold, unforgiving reality for fifty minutes, Dream Architecture may be right up your alley.