Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Album Review: Urban Metta, Vol. 2 by Anaamaly

Urban Metta, Vol. 2 is the anticipated second installment in the Urban Metta series by electronic music composer Phil Strickland, who records under the project name of Anaamaly. Comprised of eleven compositions spanning nearly 70 minutes, this album, like its predecessor, was conceived with the intent of inducing blissful states of relaxation, and is likewise well-suited for massage, mediation and yoga practices. Stylistically part ambient and part “new age”, each composition is titled after a positive affirmation that all begin with “I”. Although on its surface this notion may strike some listeners as being a bit too typically “woo-woo”, Phil’s extensive background in the chill-out, downtempo and instrumental hip-hop genres effectively help to keep these compositions firmly anchored in compositional depth and delightfully free of excessive syrup. Filled with churning textures, humming chords and organic/environmental samples throughout, the compositions mostly adhere to similar sound patterns, with each possessing individual nuanced attributes.

“I Am Ready to Forgive” introduces the album with billowing tones, swishing chimes and ethereal synthesizer washes – immediately signaling an immersive experience that defines the rest of the compositions. Following next is “I Am Inspired by Possibility” – one of my favorite pieces on the album. Here an oscillating and slowly-shifting drone underscores a beautifully drifting aquatic synth melody. The ensuing “I Am a Co-Creator” is also a notable highlight; weaving softly melodic bell-tones and the sound of running water into a mesmerizing soundscape, it feels like a rejuvenating bath or spa experience.

Another noteworthy composition is “I Give My Truth” with its heavy fog of synthesizers that seemingly convey a transparent veil of luminously streaming colors. “I Affirm All That is Good” is easily the album’s most mysterious and spacey passage, as well as perhaps my personal favorite of the lot. Comprised of synthesized vocal textures that shift along a hypnotic chord sequence, the piece effectively elicits images of a vast cosmic expanse. “I Have All That I Need (Album Version)” perfectly wraps things up in a blanketing gossamer haze, from which a more overtly shiny keyboard melody beautifully emerges.

An excellent follow-up to volume one, listening to Urban Metta, Vol. 2 feels like entering the idyllic repose of a tranquil Zen Garden. Serving as the perfect soundscape for eliciting a calmer, quieter state of being, listeners who enjoyed Anaamaly’s first album are sure to find this one to be equally rewarding! ~Candice Michelle

Available from Amazon, Bandcamp and other music retailer & streaming platforms.