Riding in on a calm wind, the debut from Nashville Ambient Ensemble taps into the calm core we’re all looking to find, perhaps more than ever lately. Assembled by Michael Hix, the crew is built from some of Nashville’s finest — RSTB fave Luke Schneider on pedal steel guitar, Kim Rueger on piano, Jack Silverman on baritone electric guitar, Deli Paloma-Sisk providing voice, Cynthia Cárdenas on guitar synth, and Timon Kaple on electric guitar. While the ambient tag here might not be as literal in every sense, the band do find themselves wandering towards the ethereal plane more often than not, but they also dip into elements of the 4AD school of gauzy pop and cosmic country as well. As he’s done on his own standout release for Third Man, Schneider’s pedal steel is thickly buttered with sunlight and serenity, creating a bedrock that’s built over with with Kaple and Silverman’s guitar runs and Paloma-Sisk’s mantra-like vocalizations.
The band builds smokescreen worlds out of their works, hiding sparkling details amongst the synths and Hix’ softly lapping electronics. Kaple and Silverman’s playing emerges to rival Schneider’s pulling further from the ambient aesthetics, but adding some truly standout moments in “Elegy” and “Conversion.” It seems that praise for calmer moments has risen as out own collective stress levels have begun to spike over the past year, but make no mistake, this is not just a record of the moment. The ensemble has created a work that glows bright at the edges, floating the listener out of the corporeal form and into something akin to auditory astral projection. Seems like we could all use an escape from this reality for a while. Forty two minutes ought to do the trick.
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