Earlier this year, in a piece about Endurance’s hour-long cassette Echoic Architecture, I praised Joshua Stefane for his ability to add unexpected texture and complexity to his ambient drone recordings. While intended as a compliment, in retrospect I wonder if that came off as a bit of a dig at pure drone. It wasn’t meant to.
In fact, Molecular Shrine, a new work from Stefane that dropped on Friday, is a terrific example of how compelling minimalist ambient music can be. Sometimes the best chord an artist can strike is a sustained one.
I shared a pre-release listen on my Aug. 6 podcast.
Recorded last winter and spring, the album features DSI Tetra, DSI Evolver, OP-1, TCM-900 tape players, tape loops, field recordings and effects pedals, all performed by Stefane.
“Air-Filled Structures” is the album’s longest piece, at 13 minutes and change. Airy and spacious, it’s a layered work that will hit you like a cool breeze.
“Measurements of Light” is more solid; dense even. But like the rest of the album, it is deeply calming.
“New Era” is a different kind of highlight. It begins with waves lapping up against the shore (perhaps near Stefane’s home in Nara, Japan). From there, he demonstrates a compositional style too seldom identified with the ambient genre. It’s an extraordinary piece on a truly beautiful album.