(New Album Review) Ethernet- Prophania [EP]

If you consider yourself a devoted fan of dub techno, deep house, and any and all ambient slipstream realms under the always-expanding tent of electronica, along the way you’ve probably become familiar with the work of Portland’s Tim Gray, better known as Ethernet (as well as Brother Blue, Tanuki House, and numerous collaborative projects). Over the years, he has amassed a sizeable catalog of releases stretching from Kranky all the way back home to Lifelike Family and my friend Temple Maps’ imprint Tamarack Music (Tim’s outings on Tamarack include the awesome Orbweaver, a one-off collaboration with Temple Maps as Cavatica Sessions, which I reviewed last September…). His newest release is the slow-burning isolation ambient of Outside of Time, off Carpe Sonum, but I want to take a second to double back to his August EP for Truth or ConsequencesProphania. Both these albums are of diaphanous stuff, possessed of a compositional sensitivity and lightness to remember, but something about the EP makes it particularly special.

On Prophania, Ethernet takes us on a dub techno flyby at the doorstep of antiquity and the cosmic by way of temperate rainforests and Pacific vistas. The loon call that breaks through the synth stabs of the dreamy opener “Khufu” reminds us where we are as the epic slow-motion sweep through morning mist invites our minds to wander. The four songs here offer a particularly minimal take on dub techno, similar in its spaciousness to offerings from characters like Mr. Cloudy and Dublicator, but the verdant, gentle glow of this stuff, in truth, is anything but cold. Indeed, the memorable middle stretch from “Silk Road” to “Honolua Bay” is insistent, beguiling, ever-so-slightly melodic, and, for lack of a better way of putting it, more “dubby” than one would expect. Left in the end under the silent seas of “Stellar Firmament”, our only company a distant owl, we get the sense of a deeply personal journey. I’m pretty sure it is one you should hasten to take!

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