Album Review: Riding the Thermals by Nicholas Gunn




Nicholas Gunn is an English musician and composer who has been releasing music for over two decades – having sold millions of albums over the course of his career and landing in the Billboard top ten charts. Initially coming to prominence in the early-to-mid 90’s, his Southwestern-flavored brand of global fusion music made lasting impressions on the genre with notable albums such as The Sacred Fire and The Music of the Grand Canyon – both of which were released on the Real Music label. Gunn later founded Gemini Sun Records, which released both his own works and those by other highly acclaimed artists such as David Arkenstone and Johannes Linstead (the latter with whom Gunn recorded a Latin-inspired album entitled Encanto). Naturally evolving over the years, Gunn’s music eventually steered in a more electronica direction, which ultimately led to his signing with a leading electronic/dance label called Armada Music under his trance music moniker Limelght.

On his latest album entitled Riding the Thermals, Gunn not only thoroughly masters – but propels to new heights – a popular style of ‘chill-out’ music that originated on the Spanish island of Ibiza and given international visibility on long-running compilation series such as Café del Mar. With song titles such as “Saint Lucia” (named for an island in the Caribbean), “Ibiza Sunset” and “Finding You”, the album conveys an overall notion of visiting idyllic destinations often wrapped in a sense of mysterious rendezvous. Comprised of ten richly emotional soundscapes, Riding the Thermals boasts an artistic maturity that is refreshingly youthful in spirit.

Bubbling melodic textures coalesce with sounds of seagulls and crashing waves on the opening title piece “Riding the Thermals”, which gradually comes to a swell amid digital atmospheric layers and an encompassing bassline in the satisfyingly familiar style of ‘euphoric trance’. Further topped-off by smoothly chilled electric guitar, an essential characteristic throughout the album, the mesmerizingly panoramic piece elicits an overall sense of leisure yet purpose, combined with an anticipation of the experience which lies ahead. Alina Renae lends her caressingly soulful vocals to four compositions, with a wistful and hopeful sense of romantic longing often permeating her lyrical melodies. Tracks three and four are perhaps the album’s most pinnacle moment and seemingly come as a pair, one instrumental and the other vocal, with the first of these titled “Be Tulum”. An affectingly spellbinding composition with notable Spanish influences, hauntingly emotive piano notes interplay with achingly desirous electric guitar figures amid a moistened atmosphere of dreamy synth-pads. Equally stunning, “I’ll Be Gone” further expounds on this mood by bringing Alina’s lyrical vocals and additional rhythmic elements into the fold, as her voice perfectly climbs to poignantly expressive heights without becoming overwrought.

An emotively sensual listening experience, Riding the Thermals simply stuns with its gorgeously lush atmospheres conveying images of Ibizan sunsets, Mediterranean shores and starry nights on the pier. Embodying Balearic ambient perfection, Nicholas Gunn’s latest work is easily one of the best albums to emerge from this wing of the genre in ages! ~Candice Michelle



For more information please visit the artist's website.

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