Regular readers will recall the cover art from our Fall Music Preview. As it turns out, Electric Māyā: Dream Flotsam and Astral Hinterlands offers more than just ambience. The rich set delves into multiple genres: devotional music, modern composition, electronic. Daniel O’Sullivan seeks to “redefine library music,” and has produced a solid statement.
The artist states that an ambient segment need not stretch in order to make an impact; with 18 tracks in 45 minutes, he proves his point. The western motifs of “Arpeggi Mutation” ~ piano, mist, whistling, rustling ~ last under two minutes, and leave one wanting more; but they don’t overstay their welcome, and one can always press repeat.
For those unfamiliar with the term, library music is not music to be played in libraries (although that sounds like fun), nor is it related to elevator music. Library music dashes across multiple genres and is typically farmed out by labels for use in TV, film and commercials. One might for example request a bubbly pop tune, or a jangly country tune, or a dramatic, tense piece, or a stringed elegy. First single “Eagle Ears” seems perfect for a prairie, the strings conveying the cumulative effort of long hours on a farm, the corn finally ready for harvest. The choral voices of “Inner Phase” imply churches, striving, and slowly-earned peace. Because this is library music, part of the fun is imagining what type of setting might fit each composition.
Having read this background, one won’t be surprised when the beats of “Dream of Diadems” enter. Given the fact that the artist is offering a set of miniatures, the bulk of the album flows surprisingly well. There’s enough “pure” ambience to go around (prime example: “Feathered Earth”), but forays into neighboring fields yield pleasing results. “Gray’s March” may break the mold with its percussion, but remains gentle enough to earn its place. Two more albums are expected to follow in this series ~ though O’Sullivan is writing more as commentary than commercial, wouldn’t it be exciting to hear a track or two picked up for broadcast? Directors, take note! (Richard Allen)