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Brannan Lane — Hypnotic Drift
(Brannanlane BLM506CD, 2002, CD)

Brannan Lane — Sleep Cycle
(Brannanlane BLM501CD, 2001, CD)

Brannan Lane / Vidna Obmana — Deep Unknown
(Brannanlane BLM504CD, 2002, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2003-02-01

Hypnotic Drift Cover artSleep Cycle Cover artDeep Unknown Cover art

Brannan Lane is a Tennessee based composer & musician who works in the areas of Caribbean, world, floating ambient, and electronic music, as well as soundtracks. These three releases represent some of his more recent solo work and collaborations in the ambient space music area.

Lane makes no bones about it in his liner notes to Sleep Cycle: This is music to accompany slumber; the discussion of the different stages of sleep, emergence, delta waves, spindles, and other such things are truly secondary to the music itself. Put this baby on and you know what it's for, and if you're still awake by the end of track 4 ("Suspension of Consciousness") then you should probably lay off the benzedrine. The tones flow gently, fading into one another like pastel colors, while subliminal effects (fast and slow waves, chirping cricket sounds, breathing, gentle wind chimes, and other sampled effects) all move subtly in the background behind the thick blanket of warm tonal color, evolving and changing slowly, as the music gently guides the listener into subconscious realms. Every track builds on the one before it, regardless of whether the disc is played in order or shuffle-played - it seems to not matter. Forget the Unisom and Sominex, this does the trick better and costs a lot less over the long haul.

Hypnotic Drift is, in many ways similar to Sleep Cycle, yet differs in that it pursues a more aggressive ambient space spirit without regard to the 'relaxation angle', softness, and a desire to produce a specific result. Ultimately, though (because this writer's been doing it a long time), I find it just as easy to conk out listening to this. The title pretty much describes the tone of the entire disc. Again, the colorful and subtle tones fade gently into each other, while on another level a similar fading and panning is occurring with sounds of a percussive origin (bells, chimes, shakers, rainstick, etc.) all processed into lush sheets of sonic texture. Although the disc contains eleven tracks, each seeming to explore different permutations of the same general style, one would be hard pressed to define where one ends and the next begins without the aid of indexing, which makes it all the better to get lost within. Once again, a perfect companion for slumber.

Collaborating with Vidna Obmana on half of the tracks, Deep Unknown reaches into similar territory as Hypnotic Drift, perhaps with a more explorative bent and some discernible percussive instrumentation. This is somewhat darker and more meditative than the others, less colorful, and dwelling in near silence at times, while processed samples of sound pepper the bleak nightscape (the water droplets on "Dark Descent" conjures up images of being at the bottom of a dark cave). Very atmospheric indeed; that's certainly the strength of this one, and what differentiates it from the others. The sound density seems to travel in cyclical waves, bathing the listener in blankets of warm (or cool) sound for a period of time, then withdrawing, leaving a void where all of the background effects and subtleties can be detected. Once again, all seven tracks are connected, making the program a sonic continuum that knows no boundaries in time, and also makes it (once again) a perfect vehicle for meditation and sleep. All three discs are outstanding examples of the subconscious power of sound.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 26, 2002 releases, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Brannan Lane, Dirk Serries / Vidna Obmana / Fear Falls Burning

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