It’s always intrigued me how the indeterminacy and noise of the sea could be so calming to many, while the musical equivalent, whether in the form of an ambient or even noise album, could often elicit a contrary reaction: the difference, of course, was the expectation of what music should sound like. A River Flowing Home to the Sea plays with that sense of being at ease not in the clearly-defined boundaries and rhythms of everyday life, but in the endless crash of waves and the droning flows of inconceivable volumes of water. It is a musical path towards non-musical comfort, where home is not the here and now, in the familiarity of rules (affirmed even by rule-breaking), but in the unfamiliarity of the beyond, of something unable to fit within the constraints of thought and life as we conceive of it.
If the expressionist album art is any indication, the grand passion of the ocean is already present in some form or another in the river’s odyssey; throughout each and every track, even the most peaceful, there are powerful moments of drone and empty-seeming soundscapes, marked by reverb and distant tones that seem to go nowhere in particular. The potential of uncertainty and limitlessness is already there, in every clear contour and every moment of brightness – it is from that infinite place that everything else becomes meaningful, and not the other way around. The sea as home is that environment where nothing remains the same, and yet it is the true place of comfort; it is precisely because it does not sound like music at all, because it is not meant to order any sort of experience within the limited framework of human activity, that it can provide some people with calm. It is what freedom feels like, not as damnation or as absolute dissolution, but as the proximity to the spontaneity of life beyond the human.
What Maze & Lindholm convey here is the capacity of something relatively constrained and limited (the river) to recall its source on an incomprehensible vastness (the sea): music is simply a restrained conception of sound and silence, the river we can comprehend leading back to the ocean that we cannot. This is what makes the quiet moments in this album its loudest, in the sense that the sparse, delicate arrangements of tones and droning sounds are but accompaniment and signals of something that transcends them. For that sea of uninhibited sounds is, paradoxically, the repository of all the meaningful silences in the world. (David Murrieta Flores)