They Danced Like Programmed Angels ~ Spit Light through the Canopy

a1458390988_16They Danced Like Programmed Angels is the pseudonym of Jon Wolper, who, on Spit Light through the Canopy, plays a selection of instruments. Synthesizers, piano, and guitar are all featured, and he includes field recordings, too. Maria Grigoryeva (violin, viola) and Lyudmila Kadyrbaeva (cello) provide the string section. Spit Light through the Canopy is music of a September light. A kinder, softer music, and a temperate interlude between the seasons.

The strings join in with an arpeggiated piano, and they’re both entwined in a sweet dance. Rain falls in the form of a field recording, and a sparse synth melody – itself a little sharp, electrified – hangs over it, trailing a long streak of reverb over the dimmer light of a rainy day.

Notes scatter themselves across its open score. Some of them are reversed, but none are reserved. There aren’t any beats or obvious percussive rhythms (apart from the stable piano and its repeating patterns), so it’s All About Atmosphere, like the very best in ambient music. Still, you’ll find a kind of tidal motion and gentle flow within the music. You can feel it.

Muffled acoustic guitar fragments are interspersed along the way, but the synth acts as the main instrument. Lines between the organic and synthetic are erased thanks to the strong interplay between synth and string. They seem willing to share the album, never competing for space but enjoying one another’s company instead – and that’s surely a product of the 21st Century if ever there was one. Overall, the synth produces a lighter sound than that to which we are accustomed, and it’s all the more radiant for it. It chooses not to voice its traditionally thick, muscular tone. Instead, it evokes something thinner and more agile, lighter in both weight and appearance. Spitting light.

Strings and piano join together again on “Processional (Stella’s Song)”, and the result is a deeply moving track. Wolper inserts impressive degrees of emotional depth, and he excels at it. Emotion elevates music. It doesn’t matter if the music features one note or a thousand. Sometimes (actually quite a lot of the time) one note can do more than a thousand can, and Wolper’s timing is excellent. Strings shine through at the right time, like a break in an overcast sky. No more is this more effective than in the transcendent coda, “These Dreams are Full of Color”. On this standout track, the subconscious mind drifts on and on and a glowing bass resembles the rocky undertow of dreams. Surfacing briefly, one can hear voices and conversation, but swelling strings soon lift the listener out of the world and back into the shimmering dream. The mind wants to stay here, in this space. Mixing the delectable, creamy ambient harmonies of Wings Of An Angel with some modern classical elements (piano, strings), Wolper creates a beautiful world free from pain and fear – a paradise for your mind. Mastered by Taylor Deupree over at 12K, Spit Light through the Canopy is a stunner thanks to its emotive power. It has that special feel. You know, when music hits the sweet spot, nothing feels better.

spit light through the canopy
shatter the moss growth
spread the sacred
fire. glaze the earth.
find what you
buried there

(James Catchpole)

Available here

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