Evan Bartholomew: Caverns of Time

An uncharitable listener might classify Evan Bartholomew's Caverns of Time as “New Age” and perhaps just as quickly dismiss it as such (titles like “Descending Deeper in Search of the Timeless” and “Reborn, We Fluctuate and Fade” only encourage the association)—which would be a shame because, even though that dimension is present, Caverns of Time remains affecting soundscaping nonetheless. Though Bartholomew's name may be familiar for work he's issued under the Bluetech and Evan Marc aliases, the sound designer and pianist's latest venture is diametrically opposed to anything dance-related he's produced in the past. Call it deep ambient, for simplicity's sake, and then add to it descriptors like cavernous, epic, glacial, serene, mythic, and immersive.

Blinding gusts of windswept tones drift across the barren plains in the seventeen-minute “We Set Out Into the Caverns of Time” and ethereal supplications of wordless choirs moan throughout “Leaving Behind Our Memories.” “Elusive and Effervescent is Our Destination” softly sprinkles a slow tribal percussion pattern (a replication of the one used by Arvo Pärt in Miserere's “When Sarah Was Ninety Years Old”) with water sounds. “Descending Deeper in Search of the Timeless” moves the album into a slow-burning, prog-flavoured oasis of synth ruminations. Sasha Rose's celestial voice helps bring the album to a graceful close in the hypnotic “Reborn, We Fluctuate and Fade.” Presentation isn't incidental either, as each of the 777 copies is inserted into a signed and numbered, hand-sewn paper package that's sealed with a wax stamp.

February 2008