Imaginary Softwoods: The Path of Spectrolite
Archives Intérieures

The words Imaginary Softwoods might not ring a bell with the listening masses, but say the name of the artist responsible for the project, John Elliott, and you'll likely get an entirely different response, given the reputation he's established for having founded the Spectrum Spools label and for his involvement in a number of musical projects, Outer Space, Mist, and Emeralds among them. Though his Imaginary Softwoods set The Path of Spectrolite first saw life as a vinyl release on Amethyst Sunset in 2011, Archives Intérieures co-founders Yves De May and Peter Van Hoesen were so taken by the release they decided it should be given another push, and so it here it once again, this time on CD.

Track titles such as “Entrance Through Selenite Pillars” and “Rainbow Obsidian Key” singlehandedly convey the generally resplendent character of the forty-two-minute album. Multi-hued and kaleidoscopic, Elliott's synthesizer-heavy etudes dazzle the listener with their light-emitting properties. The aforementioned “Entrance Through Selenite Pillars” sets the sunblinded tone early with a series of shimmering synth melodies and twilight drones, after which “Eye Color” guides the listener along starlit paths via sequencer patterns and string-like washes. On this largely percussion-free collection, “Black Water and Ice” stands out for prefacing tremulous space-drone textures with an earthy hand percussion detail, while the metronomic patterns coursing through “Rainbow Obsidian Key” lend the stately piece a refined formality that verges on neo-classical.

Presented with Elliott's trail of many colours, it's hard to resist drawing comparisons between The Path of Spectrolite and an album such as Tangerine Dream's Phaedra—even if almost four decades separates them. There's a slow-burning understatement to Elliott's release that tends to deceptively downplay the powerful impact it exerts when one gives one's full attention to it.

July 2014