Evan Bartholomew: Secret Entries Into Darkness

Issued almost concurrently with Caverns of Time, Secret Entries Into Darkness provides another sampling of Evan Bartholomew's deep tangerine dreaming. The new release positions itself more within the atmospheric electronica genre more than the strict (i.e., arrhythmic) ambient realm. While some of his soundscapes exude glacial stillness, Bartholomew, a sound designer and pianist who also issues material under the Bluetech and Evan Marc guises, opts to animate much of the set's material with pulsating microbeats. With each track bleeding into the next and the rhythmic dimension subtly intensifying along the way, the album starts to feel like a journey, and the ample time he gives to the material's unfolding maximizes the pieces' immersive potential. Song titles such as “Cracks in the Fabric of the Known” give off an aroma redolent of New Age but titles are easy to ignore. One is advised to instead focus on Bartholomew's glacial and tranquil soundscaping. Following a cavernous, echo-drenched overture (“Secret Entries Into Darkness”), a rhythm dimension emerges, with soft percussive pitter-patter and a swaying pulse appearing alongside shivering tones. A warbling, Eno-like synth motif punctuates the softly percolating beats in “Soft Spots in the Tyranny of Matter” while a recurring percussive snap and insistent thrum nudge “And Ancient Hurts Dwell” closer to the tech-house style of Bartholomew's other aliases. Arguably the recording's prettiest moments surface during the resonant piano-based outro “Freedom Found in Surrender.” Admittedly Secret Entries Into Darkness doesn't add anything radically new to the genre but it nevertheless makes a fine complement to Caverns of Time.

April 2008