Koss: Ancient Rain
Mule Electronic

A towering ambient collection from Koss (aka deep house producer Kuniyuki Takahashi), Ancient Rain isn't ambient of the wallpaper kind but rather its diametric opposite: large-scale mood settings of symphonic scope that Takahashi fleshes out with a prominent percussive dimension and an occasional field recording (rain dribble, cresting waves, wireless radio frequencies) for added atmosphere. The production design is epic too, and though the music itself doesn't invite a dub classification, the billowing atmospheric opulence of the tracks is reminiscent of the genre.

A natural opener in title and style, “Dream” cultivates a meditative mood through the use of lulling rhythms and synthetic washes, while the playing of an oriental harp deepens the music's seductive character. Whistling tones and acoustic piano sprinkles infuse “Jumoku” with warmth, while reverb-drenched piano clusters and metallic washes boost the title track's epic feel. The longest piece, “Odyssey,” leaves terra firma for a ten-minutes exercise in cosmic ambient where slow-burning synthetic swirls are undergirded by an industrial pulse so regulated it's like the churn of a factory machine. The album's prettiest track, “Dream (Real World),” revisits the opener and strips everything back to little more than the glistening pluck of a harp and a faint exhalation shimmering behind it. Ancient Rain is a serenading trip, for sure, but be prepared for a long journey as Koss's leisurely tracks check in at about seven minutes per piece on average. There's no question it provides ample opportunity for immersion.

February 2010