Absolute Probability 2021
American sound architect builds a translucent edifice to fight loneliness and chime joy to the world.
It’s been sixteen years since Ethan Matthews first aired his aural invite on this project’s self-titled debut, and one would assume the Portland artist’s music should be fleshed out by now – not only emotionally but also instrumentally – yet, thankfully, the ensemble’s patented ethereality is still there: untouched, though taken to a different level. The very title of “The Windsong Spires” suggesting something tangible, albeit fragile, the EU’s sixth album might have looked like the perfect pinnacle of the Oregon multi-instrumentalist’s refined method if he didn’t leave out of sonic palette as much matter as he put in, and such a sense of absence makes the pieces on offer truly special.
From vibes-facilitated orchestral uplift of “We Seek The Descending Levers” which unfolds an ambient panorama and focuses first Charlotte Engler’s charming chant-cum-cooing and then on Matthews’ dewdrop licks and arresting riffs, to the electric epic “Under The Smallest Sky” which defies art-rock’s inherent grandeur to search for it in folk motifs, Ethan constructs a cloudy castle – an abode for an abandoned reverie and oftentimes a fanciful battlefield that the brackets of “(And Acquiesce)” or “(Fly You Home)” will hint at. This is where the piano-rippled and slider-caressed, duet-delivered elegy of “If You Can Imagine” outlines the conceptual adventure to the mesmeric groove of Andrew Greene’s drums, before “The Night Sky” is lured by ivories magic and dreamy voices to a chamber world, and the glacial splashes of “When The Windsong Spires” propose a tribal, and at the same time celestial, dance.
Once “And When They Dance At Dusk” has added an exquisite solemnity to the crystalline vista, the drift attains magnificent, acoustically tinctured tranquility, so the initial idyllic is bound to turn into sensual, intimate experience. It’s a trip like no other – breezy and breathing life – meaning the music has been fleshed out… with love and affection.