In November 1927, British-Italian explorer Freya Stark boarded a ship for Lebanon. She would explore the Arabian desert, becoming the first non-Arab to do so. Because of the repressive nature of the French ruled Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, which did not permit travel in the region, Stark explored by donkey, only by night, taking the most remote routes possible. One can picture Stark on these clandestine missions with her guides, roving quietly through cascading sand dunes, looking up to a crescent moon. As an album of explorative ambient music, Secret In The Heart would have served as a fitting soundtrack to Stark’s journeys, guiding the listener through an enchantingly nebulous world.
Nick Podgurski‘s work veers towards the new age end of the ambient spectrum. Arid landscapes and starry nights are evoked through meditative and resoundingly calm tones; moods shift like changing weather. Like Podgurski, Zachary Paul is a Big-Apple based violinist and composer whose work deals with “the boundaries of perception, the invocation of trance states, and the juxtaposition of stasis and movement.”
On Secret In The Heart, Podgurski creates a broad shoulder for Paul’s violin to cry on. A low start steadily builds to more luxurious sweeps of synths harmonising with the violin, which seems to ruminate on melancholy; pensive vibrato and dramatic swoops play as the synths and electric piano soothe. Subtle key changes serve as crossroads, but the listener is never startled and can trust the safety blanket of warmth. This fifty-minute album is dissected into a side a and b, but the epic track plays as one complete piece, cinematic in nature and full of embrocating textures.
To experience the beauty of this recording, one must shut off the physical world, surrender to the music, and join this introspective and atmospheric expedition. Like Freya Stark once said, “One can only really travel if one lets oneself go.” (Jay Honeycomb)