In the mountain of releases filed under the sprawling banner of new age, sometimes hidden under a blanket of anonymity or airbrushed cheese, hides some music that’s really worthy of exploration.
In a relatively short period of time, the Canadian label Morning Trip have opted to specialise in this very quest. They have shone light onto some seriously amazing, if forgotten, gems. Stones of Precious Water by Barry Cleveland is the newest of these overlooked marvels.
What makes Stones of Precious Water even more potent is that 6 of its 10 tracks are performed with the hugely interesting duo in their own right – Emerald Web (Kat Epple and Bob Sholhl) forming a blissful trio with Cleveland.
The album opens very gently with No Expectation circling around a dreamy flute, gently tugged at with guitar, voice and electronic pillows. The thick blurring of Beyond the Pale tumbles forward in bubbles of processed strings adding gravity to the overall sound.
Indigo Runes draws even thicker spirals as buzzing threads seep out of the blackening eastern tinged space. The atmosphere drawn here is like an even more ambient, amped buzzed revisit of the early moments of Klaus Schultze’s Irrilicht.
The brief Point Zero matches descending sprinkles against a distant kosmic roar, whilst Amber Clould creates golden shards of reversed sounds. By this point, it’s clear the overall arc of the album groups pockets of rich detail that a casual listen might initially miss.
Fall in Rome spends its 2 and a half minutes slowly building into a celestial peak as flutes and warm electronic smudges overlap. The title track Stones of Precious Water grows out of a superb low-key reimaging of Fripp and Eno’s Swastika Girls before a bowed guitar rises majestically and woozily through the whole thing.
Blue Things feels like a form of aquatic prog with its strummed out of focus lightness. Ascension, again starts with darker tones slowly shapeshifting around strings and voice before slowly bending skyward. The final track, Bombay Down maps out time with fragmented sitar and percussion slowly giving way to silence.
Stones of Precious Water in just under 40 minutes covers a whole lot of ground despite the fact it drifts past unassumingly at low volume. Whilst music like this is often approached as an atmospheric enhancement, here we have tracks that bristle with a deep electronic vigour. In a way, the title frames the assumption this might well be an earth-based journey. However, there are so many odd touches, voids crossed in zero gravity and so much variety that make this a hugely detailed intergalactic listen.