Founded by Chicago based Mixing/Mastering Engineer, Michael Southard, Time Rival is an experimental music project that draws from Ambient, Chillout, and Minimalist music. Spawning a vast body of work since 2016, his Time Rival project has drawn influences from modern Classical music and incorporated them into a contemporary Electronic Music framework. Much of the music composed on the latest Time Rival release, Aquarium Moonbeam, displays refreshing depth, nuance, and subtlety. Listeners will be greeted with a diverse array of percussive mallet and bell sounds, sparse yet effective beats, and keyboard sustains that gleefully rest. in the background without taking over the arrangement.
“Fables” is a remarkable highlight of the release. Accompanied by a light-Industrial drum sample and neutralized by an idyllic, psychedelic bell pattern, “Fables” has an underscore feel that would work well in a transitional scene before a clincher or turning point. “Stochast” was another notable work that stood out to me; it brings an underlying Kraftwerk influence to the forefront while preserving a more contemporary sound and a more restrained mood. “Topographic Forms” is beautifully arranged with a Downtempo beat and sentimental keyboard pattern that sounds occasionally detuned or sprinkled with semitones that give the piece an Eastern music flavor.“ Twin Trails” is another work that I found to my liking. Its restrained, suspenseful, and peaceful elements give a strikingly cinematic vibe. Finally, another notable track that stood out to me was closing number “Extant”. A bit more eerie and mysterious than the majority of the release, "Extant" works very well to sum up the atmosphere of Aquarium Moonbeam on a whole.
Overall, there are some undeniable influences from composers such as Phillip Glass (his works "Madeira" and "Xingu River" spring to mind) as well as Aphex Twin (especially their more serene, atmospheric works such as "Blue Calx"). That said, the music of Time Rival is a bit less "free-flowing", and a bit more "condensed" in time, rhythm, and execution. It all works, though, as the elements fall into place and each track flows into one another while making perfect sense.
I recommend the new Time Rival release Aquarium Moonbeam if you’re eager to explore music with subtle ambiance, versatility, and an atmosphere that may very well evoke pensive, poignant, and peaceful emotions within. In my opinion, it would be a treat to listen to on a tranquil, cloudy day while reading, taking a walk, painting, or meditating.