Jeffrey Ericson Allen, recording as Chronotope Project, takes listeners on a classic spacemusic voyage on Solar Winds. From the very beginning, this disc resonates with familiarity as it charts its own course to the stars. In five tracks, Allen creates a comfortable trip built on space-between-stars drifts, occasionally using uptempo sequencers to bring us up to cruising speed. The opening title track welcomes you with big, rich pads crossing slowly past one another to establish the spacey theme. A fantastic transition late in the track ushers in a shift that hits in the form of a percussive sequencer groove–it’s brief, but effective. From there the tone shifts back to the quiet side with “Raga of the Earth.” Here, a woodwind tone wafts introspectively over a bass-loaded drone and the unobtrusive exhalations of sighing-wind pads. A pleasantly meditative piece with a slight Eastern touch. This one works its way into you, body and soul–you may not be aware how much you’re relaxing to it until it ends. ”Sirens” livens things up, packed with star-twinkle glockenspiel chimes over rolling waves and vocal pads. A touch of harp finds its way into the mix. Allen captures a sort of feminine grace with this track, along with a very solid 80′s spacemusic vibe. It feels like a track you’ve heard before–and don’t at all mind hearing again. “Redshift” opens with more spacey pads before a beat works itself in by way of an insistent tone, something between the ring of a dulcimer and the sharp snap of a tabla. Allen uses it to ramp up the pace to the disc’s most energetic, building a rush of vibraphone-like notes with a Phillip Glass pacing. Even at that it’s still a pretty laid-back, toe-tapping kind of thing, a starfaring joyride that deposits us into the very hushed environs of “Clear Bells Ringing in Empty Sky.” The title tells you what you need to know. Gentle wind chimes sing their complex song over choral pads as Solar Winds winds to a calm close.
Solar Winds doesn’t go out of its way to do anything novel with the spacemusic framework, but the easy familiarity and the superb execution of the style make it very listenable. There is a wonderful softness to it, offset in places with the rigid maths of the sequencer. The balance is excellent. It’s quite loop-worthy, either as a pleasant backdrop or, as I’ve been doing, as a close-up headphone listen. Solar Winds is a very enjoyable journey.