Oceanographer - Radiance

Released: May 10

For this album, the name Radiance is both appropriate and an understatement. Many of the tracks on this album are absolutely brilliant, shining and shimmering with all the beauty of sunlight dancing on the small waves of a clean blue lake. Oceanographer (Ryan Howell) infuses this strange sense of energy into every track on the album. Not so energetic that you couldn't call this an ambient album, but definitely something that a lot of other albums of the same vein don't attempt to veer towards. Of all the tracks here, the opener is probably the least energetic, but it still brings out that brightness, that shimmer, and that warm fuzzy feeling. 

"Sunrise" and "Brightness Overcomes" are two of my favorites on this album because the truly exemplify what the album is all about - the sparkle in the synth work and the lightness of the bits of percussion that are included. Neither is a bouncy by any means, but the latter possesses something that feels triumphant and endearing. Maybe it's the beautiful and bright arpeggio that carries through much of the track or maybe it is that solid beat that is nothing more than a finely tuned kick pushing the song along. "Sunrise" takes some of the same cues but adds several more layers to the percussive elements that give it less of a driving feel and something slightly more whimsical but much more introspective in tone. 

Then there is "You Look Like a Prism," a track that takes much the brightness of the previous songs on the album and tones it down overall. But there's also a cool trick that gets played here. While the overall shimmering of the track is reduced, it also becomes condensed in a way that results in two separate but intertwined synth becoming these two points of extreme luminescence in a muted surrounding. It's almost as if someone tied some super bright LEDs to a small spinning object in a dark room and then converted the resulting imagery into a sound.  It makes for a great closing track as it feels almost like the light has faded for the day and we witness the final trace of flickering joy until the next day. 


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