Future Museums: Rosewater Ceremony
Holodeck Records

The press text accompanying Rosewater Ceremony, the Future Museum debut outing on Holodeck Records by Austin-based multi-instrumentalist Neil Lord, suggests a New Age classification for the release, given a description that refers to its potential for creating “an inspiring sphere of meditative harmony” and providing “seclusion for the landscape within and profound enrichment for the soul.” Yet while the gentle synth swirls and plangent guitar shadings within the opening “Aura Display” do establish an aura of relaxing, meditative drift, other pieces on the cassette release align themselves to classic kosmische and a few other styles. It's the kind of release that comfortably extends its reach into multiple genres without feeling any need to justify doing so.

Yes, synthesizers figure heavily in Lord's sound design but so too do guitars and drum machines; worlds removed from New Age, “Orbit Collapse” even flirts with shoegaze in the fuzz-toned bite of its scabrous guitar soloing, while minimal techno of all things emerges in the insistent synth pattern accompanying delicate guitar filigrees in “Natural Pulse.” Speaking of shoegaze, a smattering of low-end guitar distortion also lends a gritty edge to the otherwise serene “Rage Into Progress.”

That said, there are definitely moments where the New Age label applies. Perpetuating the peaceful tone of “Aura Display,” for example, are “Cosmic Winds Reprise” and “Low Visibility Clearing,” both of which present becalmed oases conducive to soul cleansing and spiritual rejuvenation. And though a quietly pulsating industrial dimension does form part of the sound design in “Rebirth of Empathy,” the seven-minute dreamscape encourages a similarly strong narcotized response when Lord overlays its pulsations with vaporous synth swells and reverb-soaked guitars.

January 2018