Aether is the sophomore release and follow-up to Awaken from Portugal native Jos d’Almeida. Comprised of eleven tracks spanning seventy-two minutes, the album’s artwork depicts a ship arriving at a shoreline, perfectly capturing the essence of a sea-voyage set around the world while touching on styles of ambient, electronica and melodic space music.

Our journey begins in the Pacific Ocean with “MU”, a piece named after a mythical lost continent of that region, as the opening sound of crashing waves and flowing water convey an oceanic abode. High timbres and ethereal tones exude an otherworldly feel, while sparsely-placed symphonic drums allude to embarking on a mysterious sea-voyage. “Full of Stars” follows next, a piece that elicits images of sailing at night on a sea-bound ship, as droplets of synths mimic the twinkling of stars amidst swirling melodic chords. Arriving on the western coast of South America is “Puma Punku”, my favorite piece on the album, which is named after a set of ancient temple ruins in Bolivia. This dreamily floating composition is initially characterized by hushed bells, subtle wind gusts and vintage electronic motifs, before eerie synthesized voices enter the piece about half-way through along with light percussion. Greatly appealing to my ‘inner archaeologist’, this stunningly gorgeous piece feels like peering back in time, perhaps to observe the monument’s builders while unlocking the secrets of an ancient civilization. Trekking to the other side of the South American continent is “Atlantic Mist”, a spacey, nocturnal piece comprised of looped bell tones and strange vocal samples slipping in and out. “Tabula Smaragdina” is another favorite; its title meaning “The Emerald Tablet”, which is named after a cryptic piece of the Hermetica that was highly regarded by European alchemists. It signals our arrival at an old-world destination, as dynamic sequencers and an entrancing rhythm lend movement and mystery throughout. Also especially noteworthy is the title piece, “Aether”; its spinning synths and sequencers glide upon a light and bouncy beat, as its chilly vibe and fantasy element suggests we’ve sailed somewhere far north. “Zero” closes out the album in a somewhat foreboding manner. Digital bleeps echo among shooting star effects with warped and winding synths, before sequences reenter at about the halfway mark. This piece feels like arriving at an unknown destination, while seeming to elicit the sound of a secret code being transmitted throughout space and time.

Bearing subtle influences of Ron Boots, Jon Jenkins and Vangelis, much of Aether reminded me of a lot of 90’s-era ambient music, which is an utmost compliment. Permeated by a dreamy depth and inaccessible mystery, the compositions took me on a fascinating journey to a mythical past, all while providing an amazing headphone experience. A thoroughly outstanding album from start to finish, Aether is not to be missed by fans of ambient, chillout and electronic space music! ~Candice Michelle

This album is available at Bandcamp.

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