(New Album Review) Channelers- Essex

Channelers is a project of Inner Islands co-founder and current curator Sean Conrad, perhaps better known for his releases as Ashan; his 2015 debut under this moniker for Inner Islands They Are Cloaked in Stars and Rivers, which I only recently took the plunge into, stood apart from much of the nascent droney, new-agey stuff out there in the netlabel-verse waiting to be found for its sense of playfulness and melody. And the new Channelers album Essex, which came out in February, again, for Inner Islands, is still better.

You listen to these hazy, buoyant synth ostinati, and you’re drawn out from the shade into the sun-dappled expanses of reminisces and renewing daydreams. Acoustic textures perhaps anchor “Passing My Heart through the Place of Questions” and “Moved by Streams” in American folk tradition, but in truth here they sound exotic and mysterious, divorced from their sources. The emphasis is on melody over soundscapes, but all the same, the undulating layers fall into place to form some pretty lovely vistas. It all sounds a bit like something a sincere Deuter would put out, albeit a Deuter who grew up on the American west coast– it’s a musical gift from Conrad to you, accessible and lovingly assembled. Already one of my 2016 favorites, and I think it will be one of yours, too.


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