Past Palms has released an EP a year for the past three years, each featuring a sparkling single. We included “Kentia” in the 2019 edition of Ten Tracks That Sound Like Summer, and “Rainwater” in the 2020 edition. But all of Empyrean sounds like summer, or at least late spring, when the world is in bloom and everything drab is turning into technicolor.
During lockdown, many have yearned for nature while in quarantine, whether an outdoor stroll or a vacation; forest bathing has seldom been so popular. First single “Tropics” begins with the lush sounds of the jungle, but adds sitar and harp for an exotic feel. When thumping beats arrive, one remembers with joy the resurgence of the Buddha Bar series, for which such a piece would be perfect. The artist writes that he hopes to capture the feeling of houseplants in “grey environments,” while folding in the sounds of urban settings. The largeness of the single seems a statement of confidence, while the subtler field recordings offer a kind balance.
The entire project is inflected with an Asian tone, engendering feelings of peaceful meditation ~ but also, in the uptempo tracks, a taste of ebullience. The world may head in this direction as it emerges from its longest global trial. But the EP still manages to inject the advice to slow down, perhaps to smell the roses, as it starts in harp and ends in a slackening. The title “Endlessly” implies spiritual timelessness. The vocal sample sings comfort over its hearers.
We’re not used to hearing multiple singles from Past Palms, but the huge bass of “Dragon Tree” marks it as a potential follow-up. The producer is adapted quickly to a world in which, very soon, the clubs will return. One can imagine this track on a monster sound system, no edibles required. Ironically, the harp is quicker than the drums. “Cloudbloom” ups the energy while continuing the peaceful vibe; this time one is tempted to clap along. The track ends with a muted timbre akin to that used by Björk on “There’s More to Life Than This,” followed of course by a thunderclap.
We’re always happy to follow an artist on their way up, and Past Palms continues to make great strides toward what we hope will be a long and fruitful career. (Richard Allen)