I’m crossing a bridge on a cloudy morning. It looks like it might rain. People are running, God knows from what or where to, a slow dancing society unfolds in plain sight every second, and the music of Drew Sullivan seems to be made to draw our attention to the beauty or ugliness (which is equally fascinating and educational) of this world. Ambient music has in many cases been used as the soundtrack to sunsets, strange color formations in the sky and other obscure moments of abstract beauty that seem to occur more often than we are capable of noticing them. For an artist such as Slow Dancing Society, originating from the land of rain (the state of Washington), the anticipation of a shower every time the sun is hidden becomes an inspiration, and leads to a more stoic approach to life and art, as well as a greater appreciation of the times we tend to describe as good (a metaphor for which can be the times when the sun is shining).
Sullivan, has developed into a shaman of sound, whose ambient (mostly guitar) music that has in some cases drawn comparisons to Hammock, has begun to deviate towards a quieter, more personal approach. Laterna Magica is a more esoteric work than its predecessors, even if the differences from albums such as The Slow and Steady Winter or The Sounds of Lights When Dim may not be noticed at first. The music seems to be getting more abstract, and the emotional outbreaks of tracks such as the lovely “February Sun” from the fabulous The Slow and Steady Winter, less frequent. The melodies seem to be frozen in time, telling us stories of love, pain or loss in slow-motion, and emphasizing their universalness. Faint hints of a beat here and there serve as a reminder that we are parts of an enormous machine, and we must be aware at all times of the dangers surrounding us. Droney atmospheric sounds led by a minimal guitar or piano however soon deliver us to the dreamlike state, that reveals the true meaning of our existence, which cannot be described in words.
Revisiting the first paragraph, I realize that I am describing a personal experience, whose meaning became clearer to me while listening to this album, and may have nothing to do with the artist’s vision. But the ability to make its listeners project and find meaning in their own experiences is in itself a victory and music such as this can certainly have that effect. (John Kontos)