The expansive dreamworlds of Oneironaut bare relation to those crafted by Robert Rich and Steve Roach, painting infinite horizons that flit between resembling earthly, desolate plains to depicting immersive stretches of outer space. Processed guitar and keyboards lie at the core, veiled somewhere beneath a cavernous reverb that turns their timbres and melodies into fluid streams and ambiguous tone clouds. These move in gentle dynamic waves, acting like the rise and fall of breath cycles that indicate life during the relative stasis of sleep.
There’s little here that hasn’t been seen in the genre previously – the textural embellishments (woodwind, intermittent sub-bass thuds, clattering field recordings) can often feel like rather conservative moves, already tried and tested by many ambient artists before. As a result, Oneironaut can sometimes feel overshadowed by the influences it wears so lovingly on its sleeve.
But it doesn’t detract from the fact that the album is very well crafted for what it is. As with all good ambient works of this variety, its hour-long duration seems to pass all too quickly – even at its most clichéd, the vast atmospheres on this record are convincing and vivid, dotted with tiny tonal details that slink across the backdrop and only come to attention once actively unearthed. Oneironaut comes to a close on the phantom-inhabited space canyon of “The Zenith Gateway” (arguably the album’s finest cut), it’s the gaping silence that follows that truly hits home the impressive depth and construction of this Cyclic Law debut.