Monday, January 5, 2015

Album Review: With Evening Above by Jeff Pearce

With Evening Above is Jeff Pearce's first ambient guitar album since 2002's Bleed, having since released a few Chapman Stick albums – including 2008's Rainshadow Sky – and a beautiful piano album in 2012 titled In the Season of Fading Light. Although Pearce has released a string of remarkable recordings since the mid-1990's, two of them in particular – Bleed and 2000's To the Shores of Heaven - have long stood-out as my personal favorites. With Evening Above is highly reminiscent of those two albums in both musical style and atmosphere, having fused the strongest elements of each while at the same time presenting a fresh and innovate sound.

With Evening Above is a landmark ambient/space recording composed entirely of processed and layered electric guitars that are warm, enveloping and in many parts could easily be mistaken for synthesizers. Essentially, it is electronic music that also feels organic, evoking images and sensations of being outside in open spaces under clear, starlit skies. There's also an underlying yet ever-present emotionally-stirring quality about the music that subtly tugs at the heart as it transports the mind.

The album opens with the title track, "With Evening Above", a warm, melodic piece conveyed by Pearce's signature guitar-scapes which gently cascade about and engulf the listening space. About half of the album's tracks are imbued with more melodic structure such as this one, and gently alternate with more expansive atmospheric pieces, as exemplified on the closing track "No Matter How Far", a drifting long-form piece over twenty minutes long that is sure to send the listener into dreamland. At its darkest, the music is still tender and elegant - at its brightest, still melancholy and mysterious.

One particular highlight is the track "After Dark", a deeply hypnotic and nocturnal-sounding piece that feels beautifully esoteric, making it my personal favorite. This one should definitely be listened to on headphones in order to experience its full immersion, as there is a whole lot going on beneath the surface of this track that might not be immediately evident with casual listens.

In a way, With Evening Above seems to have come out of nowhere, proving itself to be a stunning return to form and quite possibly Pearce's most impressive album to date. Timeless, ageless, and destined to become a classic, all eight tracks are magnificent from beginning to end, making it one of the absolute best recordings to bless my senses in a very long time. This one is a definite must-have! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

Review originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 01/05/15.