Near the Parenthesis :: Cloud.Not Mountain (n5MD)

The album is a sine wave. It climbs and drops in smooth, regular intervals, and carries the listener through a calming journey supported by grand pianos traveling a two-note polyphony, which drops further into high-reverb sequences, smoothly rising again to take us to an arpeggiated wonderland.

San Francisco based Near the Parenthesis unleashes his sixth album with Oakland-based n5MD and boasts the grammatically-intriguing title of Cloud.Not Mountain. It’s an album that bears a dualistic identity, one of beautiful, floating melody, and another of tribal, rolling rhythm. This is particularly evident in the first track on the record, “Madrean,” which starts the album off powerfully, forcing its odd-yet-entrancing almost arrhythmic beat that supports airy, long notes that form chord changes over time. It’s really quite extraordinary. The pace is somewhat calmed as the album hits its stride, with persistently present round synth sounds that conjure clouds lazily moving along a bright sky, and creatively-executed minimal drums that straddle the border of polyrhythmic, with excellent subtle panning that makes the experience of listening to the record on headphones decidedly enjoyable.

The album is a sine wave. It climbs and drops in smooth, regular intervals, and carries the listener through a calming journey supported by grand pianos traveling a two-note polyphony, which drops further into high-reverb sequences, smoothly rising again to take us to an arpeggiated wonderland in the title track. We even get a dose of the classic Mac robot voice, which I thought I could have done without initially, only to find that a pleasing effect is generated when he chops it up and opens up the melodies in the background. At six minutes, the track hits several different arenas, briefly touching glitch, lingering on more two-tone polyphony, and reminding us that a drum track can definitely benefit from bar-to-bar modulation. An idea is never allowed to grow stale in Cloud.Not Mountain, rather, each piece of each song comes and goes as part of an elaborate and lengthy transition, making the album as a whole a very smooth ride. Some themes return, and make the album feel like a singular vision, composed of yet complementary sounds, and not shying away from hitting a quick groove before it takes back to the skies.

Not having heard Near The Parenthesis’ previous work, I can’t comment as to this album’s place in reference to the artists’ past, but Cloud.Not Mountain has made me a fan of the artist, and I’m eager to listen to his other work which, if this album serves any indication, will be excellent.

Cloud.Not Mountain is available on n5MD.

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