Review: memorygarden禅 – districtアトランティス

It’s far too easy to articulate tranquil music in terms of water and floatation. When one encounters a record like districtアトランティス, the analogy feels so pertinent that those other, more casual usages start to feel like lazy approximations. The instruments on the latest memorygarden禅 record seem to be genuinely caught on little upward currents of water, glazed in the soft azure of the ocean meeting the light. The depression of each keyboard key triggers a seahorse swoop of bells or pianos or choir pads, or the emergence of some otherly harmonic gleaming. Even the melodies have a gentle, effortless uplift to them, like a smile that seeps blissfully into the corners of the mouth, encapsulating the sensation of not only occupying an idyllic place, but the feeling of urgency and inner trouble draining away.

The reverb on this album has been dialled in exquisitely. The percussion (often reduced to simple alternations of muffled bass drum and rimshot) comes cloaked in an echo that renders it distant and half-forgotten, idly pushing out rhythms from an adjacent room. Elsewhere, this echo provides an outer glow to the instruments but leaves those finer textural details intact. Thus, I can fully hear the lo-fidelity crackle of choir pads, or those homages to the ambience of holiday park gift stores, or the oceanic zones of those more exploratory 90s computer games. It’s a beautiful record, pulling on the levitational powers of water – both as an alleviator of gravity, and in a sense that feels reminiscent of the transcendent promises of New Age spirituality.