Based in rural Massachusetts, electronic composer Devin Powers has been releasing music in the IDM, ambient and shoegazer spheres under his SineRider alias for the last decade under the radar, to the point where he’s amassed an impressive backcatalogue of around 20 albums (many of them self-released).
This latest album ‘Four Years Away’ on Greek label Sound In Silence follows on from 2016’s ‘Seconds Minutes’ on Sun Sea Sky, and sees Powers crafting twelve new tracks that sit distinctly in the ambient realm, with mesmerising layers of tape delay and digital processing being applied to gentle synths, keyboards, sampled environmental sounds and drones.
The end result is classic ambient in the vein of Harold Budd and Steve Roach, with the focus on gauzy melodic layers, an enveloping sense of blissful calm, and the overriding sense that many of these tracks are meant to generate an immersive sense of atmosphere, rather than form a constant sense of focus. Indeed, this is music that remains effective when it’s not being constantly concentrated on – something that’s definitely not intended as a slight.
‘Farmland’ opens proceedings gently as blurred-sounding analogue synth pads murmur into focus, sending bright trails bleeding out through a woozy layer of reverb, the resulting feeling of warmth that’s generated evoking the sense of sunrise over a rural landscape, even as the wavering tape delay hints at more treacherous waters beneath. ‘Sea Level’ highlights the grainy edges that elevate these tracks away from standard New Age / ambient fare as layers of harmonically tuned drones alternately swell and then fall away against crackling background static, the wavering textures inducing a sense of warm isolationism that remains reassuring rather than threatening.
‘Gate’ ventures closer to detuned IDM synthscapes in the vein of Boards Of Canada or Plone as analogue tones get their decay envelopes bent like melted wax and swelling bass tones bleed out into the foreground, in what’s easily one of the most stripped down and emotionally direct tracks here. Elsewhere, the widescreen ‘Sparrows’ sees Powers’ sprawling post-rock tendencies coming to the forefront as gauzy drones build into a meserising wash of sound against the distant sound of human voices, the yawning harmonic depths of the background drones acquiring an even greater sense of depth as the listener strains to pick out stray conversational details. Well worth seeking out.