6wx_o: 6wx_o |  ★★★★

[Self-released; August 6]

This self-titled cassette is Will Brooks’ second project as 6wx_o, a moniker he adopted just before moving home to his native NC, after jaunts up and across both coasts.

Brooks initially made a mark in the LA rave scene, releasing leftfield house as Eli Cash before switching gears with two digital compilations, VOL. I and VOL. II, which served as his 6wx_o debut.

On this new release, he makes a turn away from beat-oriented music towards immersive, synth-heavy ambient pieces.

Following the lead of Japanese ambient music pioneer Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green, Brooks merges artistic process with natural creation, constructing a symbiotic audio ecosystem between his natural surroundings (via field recordings) and the listener’s headspace.

This is achieved, on tracks like “Waving,” by the distant rustle of animals, running water, and slow-moving ambient washes, as warm synth leads and bass drift into the foreground. As on Duke Ellington’s Queen’s Suite—where instruments court comparison with natural elements—sounds can be imagined as natural song: skittering bass for the croak of a bullfrog, or ambient padding as a soft blanket of crickets.

On other tracks, like “Immunity Loop” and “Driftwood,” electronica fills the landscape with descending synth chords, à la Terry Riley’s dervishes, and bright marimba-toned pulses; later, reverberating synth and ambient swirls.

As in binaural recording—sound recorded with two microphones, in order to map a three-dimensional aural experience—new-age music often renders the sonic experience of a space in your head. It is not simply a physical space, but rather a state of meditation, hyper-consciousness of one’s surroundings, and mediation of inner noise in pursuit of relaxation or deep thought.

6wx_o’s last track, “Night Sweats,” reaches a kind of epiphany in sound. Stretches of dense, distorted synth leads, almost approaching white noise, gradually fade into the sound of twittering birds and heavy footsteps which seem to come towards you up a mossy garden path.

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