(New Album Review) James Murray- The Sea in the Sky

In the wake of January’s boldly original and emotive Loss, it’s clear that London-based composer James Murray has set himself up as taking a more dynamic path in sound art than nearly everyone else in his field. The Sea in the Sky, an album of granular synthesis released in September off VoxxoV Records, continues in the conceptual vein so brilliantly mined on Loss. This one is a meditative set of soundscapes that take as their subject the expanses of the stratosphere.

These are desolate zones frequently reminiscent of the arctic ambient of Thomas Köner and Sleep Research Facility. Higher-register frequencies crackle, ring, and hum like the streams that flow past a lone traveler making their flight through this vaporous envelope. In the midst of this chaotic network of currents, emotive swells are buoyed back and forth– dissolved voices. One cannot help but be impressed with how the parameters of granular synthesis have been employed to highly imaginative effect, creating layered, filamentous sonic spaces. The Sea in the Sky is something of a textural and conceptual masterstroke– arid and oceanic all at once, and powerfully mind-manifesting as the best dark ambient sounds are meant to be.


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