Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Artist: Emily A. Sprague
Title: Water Memory / Mount Vision
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: RVNG Intl.
Emily A. Sprague’s two most recent EP’s- 2017’s “Water Memory” and 2018’s “Mount Vision”- were previously only available digitally on Bandcamp (where they can still be found), or on limited edition cassettes. Here, they have been combined into a single 75-minute release and (I think) available on LP and CD for the first time.

This is detailed and delicate ambient music infused with innocence and positivity. Soft pad patterns, smooth-enveloped synth melody notes, distant-sounding atmospherics and low hums pervade. Although the promotional material makes references to earthy elements and human interactions, I’d suggest this result is more abstract than this would imply- it’s peaceful, pure and largely synthetic, but not in a bad way.

“Water Memory” is mainly built from two pieces- the 13-minute “A Lake”, a soft twinkling warm drone, and the 16-minute title track in two parts, a slightly more complex work with a revolving melodic pattern that unfolds and unravels peacefully. The first album is filled out by shorter pieces “Dock” and “Your Pond” which feel a little sketchier, the latter in particular feeling a little glib with its warm organ-ish keys.

“Mount Vision” is more flatly divided into three ‘Synth’ pieces that continue the warm ambient lineage and the gentle dalliance with melody (“Synth 2” assuredly the highlight, “Synth 3” sounding like one of Jean-Michel Jarre’s more freeform noodling numbers but performed with one of Moby’s synths), and two soft piano pieces that sit somewhere between romantic and melancholic and never stray too far from simplicity, and a gentle, watery ‘Huckleberry’ interlude.

Both albums are preceded by short (around a minute long) poem pieces which were not included on the original releases. These are not unpleasant, but even though I’m not accustomed to the original poem-less releases, there still seems to be something about them that doesn’t quite fit. For the purposes of sleep playlisting, those two will be getting skipped.

If you don’t already own either release, and if mellow ambient music with no challenges or surprises is something you need more of in your life- perhaps for meditation or sleep- then this is certainly worth checking out.


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