Reviews 11-26-2017

Music Reviews 



The Radiant Sea

by Bridge to Imla

Visit Bridge to Imla on Facebook

Winter-Light Records

Winter-Light Bandcamp page






The Radiant Sea is the debut release by Bridge to Imla (Hans-Dieter Schmidt & Michael Brückner) and is the perfect example of what happens when two veteran ambient artists pool their talents under a new moniker and make music together. What happens is that these two talented artists blend their skills and create a wonderful new album that goes farther musically speaking than either could have gone on their own. The beauty of collaboration in the internet age is that artists who are separated by distance who would like to work together can make it a reality simply by sending their pieces of the whole back and forth via the internet after they are recorded in each of their respective home studios until the project is completed.

The title The Radiant Sea may lead a listener to think that the music is going to sparkle and shine like sunlight glistening off the surface of water but contrary to the title the music goes much deeper than what a person might see reflecting off the surface of the sea. In fact if you look at the titles you will see that they concern water currents or geological places of the Pacific Ocean and some of those can be quite deep and quite dark. Just like the music. The music like the depths of the ocean is mysterious. The textures that define Bridge to Imla’s debut album are many shades of gray with little wisps of light that break through now and again as if you were looking up at the surface of the water from far below.

Beginning with track one the listener is submerged in these densely atmospheric soundscapes that ebb and flow much as the tides and currents do in the ocean that this collection of songs successfully evoke. Once you are caught in the flow of the music it pulls you along and compels you deeper into the shadowy-encased recesses of the water. While the music would properly be called drone music there are some exceptions within this body of work that remind you that while you may be surrounded by this watery expanse of mostly shadows and very little light the music modulates on your journey as it does on a song called Shatsky Rise that reminds the listener that they are not encased in absolute darkness on this journey. Around the 1:26 mark of this song it’s as if for a few minutes you rise to a point in the water where the light from the sun reaches you for a few moments and the music celebrates that light by becoming less dense and more melodic but not overly so because the journey to the depths is not over yet. The next track grabs you once again pulling you back into the velvety blackness that surrounds you as you move deeper still.

The music of Radiant Sea creates sonic landscapes that are memorable with their subtle electronic changes that continually alter the scene that the listener is being shown. While you journey through the Pacific Ocean via the currents and the trenches and the plateaus you begin to feel the vastness of the kingdom of which you have entered. The invisible undersea world is one that most of us simply take for granted since all we ever experience of the water is view from the surface. Michael and Hans-Dieter have chosen to explore this darker, innerspace world of shadows and slow-moving sea creatures that would no doubt be present in a journey like this. The music is mostly generated via synths and through some sampling and much processed household sounds but it has all been woven together seamlessly into this otherworldly soundscape that is both haunting and soothing at the same time.

The music speaks of the care and the attention to detail that was put into it by both Hans-Dieter and Michael and shows that distance is no obstacle to artists who desire to create music together in the 21st century. And to make these details shine even more the deft hand of Robert Rich mastered this project so that the diamond it already was shines that much more brightly. The Radiant Sea is an exploratory journey in sound that moves effortlessly from deep foreboding dark ambient to the lighter sounds and melodies of a composition like Louisville Ridge which offers the listener a place where the darkness of the water is not so pronounced. The music flows together in sweeping waves and in gentle, intimate eddies that try to capture the characteristics of the various locations that comprise this undersea journey. The recording quality is superb and the compositions show that Michael and Hans-Dieter are skilled musicians in the assembling of this work  into a cohesive whole that offers us a sonic delight such as The Radiant Sea.  The album is being released on a somewhat young but very successful dark ambient label out of the Netherlands called Winter-Light records on December 1, 2017. If you like this album be sure to support the label with your purchases and recommendations so that they can continue to release great music going forward.

This dark ambient album will be a standout for many years to come and should be considered a must have for your collection if you’re up for a sonic journey of discovery that will lead you into the depths of the Pacific Ocean and then bring you back out again.

Highly recommended by Ambient Visions.

Reviewed by Michael Foster for Ambient Visions