By Amanda Nordqvist
Back in the middle of May, the brand new project Solidarity Hymn – consisting of Andy Othling of Lowercase Noises and Steven Kemner of Hotel Neon – released their debut album: a collaboration the two had wanted to explore for a while, having had the idea after touring together as their separate projects. The base of For a Wandering Beam of Sun was created back in August of 2017, as the two musicians sat down together for a week and laid down the foundation of what the album would become – ultimately, a well-balanced mix of their respective styles, blended together in a gloriously unassuming fashion.
Throughout the album the listeners will find themselves positively surrounded by sound and stillness, moving slowly but deliberately, losing neither focus nor feeling. The title track has the most unfaltering hope in those distant horns, telling of new horizons, setting the premises for the album instantly – it is soft, strong and grand in its minimalism. I can hear the sound of sunlight filtering through the dust of an early morning; I feel the movement of the earth, breathing like a sentient being.
The thoughtfulness and transiency of The Beam I Sought Always Burnt shows just how a little subtlety can reach even further than some grand gesture – with each sway of the ambience perfectly calibrated, you feel like every second of the track is equally important: that nothing and no one was left behind but instead carefully integrated into the soundscape. Later in the album we get a hint of something slightly more sinister as the depth of Death Was Between Us sweeps over the open fields like a mist merely caressing the ground, only to be followed up by the heartbreaking beauty of Dropped Beneath the Downs, quivering like the stillness of a thousand sleeping birds – it settles into a breezy awakening behind my eyes and the movement of the track summons soft melodies inside my head, like daydreams coming in and out of focus. The whole piece is like one big, blissful sigh, echoing in my mind.
In short, the album is a prime example of phenomenal, minimalistic ambient music – slow and still and never dull, moving in such a pace that you follow by pure instinct. For a Wandering Beam of Sun is a beautiful collection of tracks that all encourage you to turn your gaze inwards, see what hides inside you, and lead it gently to come out and see the light.