Gel-Sol: IZ
Psychonavigation / Upstairs Recordings

Seattle-based Andrew Reichel (aka Gel-Sol) created IZ as an “all-ambient adventure” for his recently-born niece Izabella, so it doesn't greatly surprise that the hour-long collection is often becalmed and meditative in spirit, qualities enhanced by its uninterrupted flow. It's far from aural pabulum, however, as Reichel extends the album's stylistic template to include psychedelic krautrock episodes and sweeping panoramas reminiscent of early-‘90s ambient electronica. Throughout the journey, speaking voices and field samples (city traffic and sirens, children's laughter, waves breaking, thunderstorms) rise to the surface of Reichel's synth-heavy settings. IZ largely opts for slow and tranquil unfurl, with the insistent bass pulse in “As Far As Eye Can See” providing a rare instance of forward thrust. The ebb and flow in “Mourning Wok” is both beatific and epic while “Iz” and “Bubble in the Sky” present immersive shimmer and symphonic sweep respectively. “Your Day in the Sun” exudes the peacefulness that sets in as a child drifts off to sleep, heartened by the echo of the mother's “I love you,” but the most beautiful moment arrives with “Secret Island” where placid tones and angelic voices draw the listener into their paradisiacal grip. Elsewhere, the billowing streams and whooshes in “Disko Bay” are so free of grit and grime, they call to mind the equally “clean” tone of ‘70s synthesizer albums, while the suitably grandiose “Orca” sometimes sounds like a veritable Tangerine Dream homage in its buildup of bass synthesizer propulsion and galaxial tones.

July 2008