The latest album out on this fabulous imprint is by Darwin Raymond, entitled ‘Somewhere The Sun Shines Brightly’. Having spoken to Darwin when he assembled a fifteen minute EP for Audio Gourmet, I had an inkling that once Tetsuo had signed him up to Analogpath, his work was likely to be good. Not least because I associate quality with both, having worked with them.
I was lucky enough to get hold of a reviewer’s copy and I have to say whilst I enjoyed the sample on the label’s website, I was bowled over by the sheer excellence contained within the eight tracks that make up Somewhere The Sun Shines Brightly on first listen.
For some reason, I had expected the murkier, dark drones that Darwin had concocted for his EP on Audio Gourmet so when I first played the CD, I was struck by the great beams of light that emanate from the music.
Somewhere The Sun Shines Brightly implies a longing for the sun, for warmth and better days. It hints that the conditions in which it was recorded were not so bright. However, this record is so full of warmth and radiant brightness that it is difficult to imagine that it might have been created under a dark cloud, during dull weather or at the depths of despair.
The guitar is nearly always a warm instrument, and this becomes the focal point for this album. Darwin’s playing here is used in several different approaches – for warm droning texture, as discernible passages of melody and as bent or slide notes. These give a great diversity to the album, to set it apart from others who have attempted similar themes. The tinge of melancholy throughout keeps it from being saccharine. The all-round execution is so good, that it’s difficult not to draw comparison to one of the all-time great ambient albums ‘I Could Not Love You More’. Of course, it is different in many ways and has its own voice but I felt reminded of it at several points during the album.
In summary, this is an album that will fill the room with its light, with or without the sun. I have a feeling I will be listening to this all summer long and likely returning to it some more once winter returns.
Harry Towell, Audio Gourmet
Far off in the distance, the sun shines brightly (just not in England of late.) Yet it’s encouraging to know that somewhere she is still shining with brilliance, sustaining life and the sale of sunscreen. “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it”. As soon as the first, sweet notes fill the air, it’s apparent that she turns her eyes this way, in a natural illumination of supple light. It’s possible to feel the transcendent, tantalising radiance of the sun through this delightful ambient journey, courtesy of Darwin Raymond.
The primary sound of plucked acoustic guitar displaces any remaining ice that a cold snap has left behind. As warm, as open, as the first hints of Summer trickling in, the notes that rise out of the strings tilt their way toward the boost of inviting light, as if they were gracefully opening petals producing pollen scented with a beautiful tonal fragrance. And in a way, the notes are petals; they unfold and open over the course of time, developing and then reaching over one another in their fingerstyle-led repetition, promoting a relaxing spell reclining in the haze. No heatwave, no sun-tan. Only a lovely temperature and a soft breeze. Chilled, while being warm in tone, this is the ambient zone where the day’s troubles don’t seem to matter.
Radiant and comforting, Somewhere The Sun Shines Brightly offers a view behind the veil, of nature uninterrupted. Spacious atmospheres counteract the intimacy of the strings; they are, after all, only inches apart. Tiny melodic solos run over the main arrangements, alongside the blushed sound of a vague slide. It’s these little, lovable additions that really add the depth, allowing the music to dive even deeper so as to really hit the sweet spot; they’re shy and unassuming, but they’re also living life to the full. Every single track is a healthy, positive thought, where major melodies – and the sunshine – help to support life, like fresh soil over the seeds of the earth.
“Couldn’t Be Farther” sees the mixture of melody and bass intertwine as if announcing a crossover of the seasons. Despite the sedate feel of the music, the record actually speeds past (just like the prospect of a prolonged spell of sunshine in England). If you’re looking for warmth – for the body and for the soul – you will find it here. No radiator is needed. Just in case you’ve forgotten what the fiery ball in the sky feels like, Somewhere The Sun Shines Brightly reminds you once again with a beautiful appreciation.
Drones as light as the upper troposphere seem to say hi, but they’re a little shy of “A Summer Embrace”. Orbs filled by prismatic light trails flares across the sky and into the eyes as the ambience continues to drift. “Like Us, There, Then” recalls a once-vivid image of happiness and total surrender, only to be coated by the passage of distant years and the break-ups that followed. Despite this, the track isn’t a sad figure; she still smiles in the face of defeat.
Raymond’s guitar playing allows an air of serenity to flow through as one, fluid stream. Sitting just above his guitar, up in the stratosphere, are swirling, ambient textures that feel thin and fresh. Alive, yes, but sleepy, as if they’re caught up in a daydream of unbroken optimism. A deep swish of rosy ambience covers everything like a lover’s shadow tracing lines over the face of her companion. One has the feeling that the guitar and the atmospheric sheet are close to each other; if they haven’t already fallen in love, they soon will. And the sun shines brighter still.
“The Mountains In Veils” reaches the point at the summit where all concealed beauty becomes seen, the place where melodies burst open in spectacular colour, as if the appearing notes are an unexpected rainbow. Just as colourful, the notes splash major tonal colours onto the atmosphere, as a beam of unbroken light spilling forth – the place where the sun shines brightly. Almost, almost, the melody breaks out into a solo – it’s very tempting. At this altitude, the melody appears heaven-sent, drifting under blue skies and over those white, fluffy clouds. “Koa” is as short as it is lovely; I personally wouldn’t want it to last any longer. The scrapes of flesh against the wood of the fretboard are evident, and add another little touch of personal warmth. All added up, Somewhere The Sun Shines Brightly is likely to boost your body heat.
Recent months, especially those in the Northern Hemisphere, may have seen the sun pierce the blue (or the dark sky) with less frequency, but when this kind of ambience is around, there’s always a healthy dose of sunshine to enjoy. Sunshine. – James Catchpole, a closer listen