On last album Themes for a Dying Earth, Jamison Isaak's lush dream-pop was equal parts intimate and catchy; it felt restrained at times, like his fluttering melodies were straining to break free. On Themes for a New Earth, a new collection of instrumental recordings from the Dying Earth sessions, there's no attempt to escape at all. The melodies just float and fill the room, and they're perfectly content to marinate. It's a beautiful, one that builds on Isaak's fascination with nature in new ways.
"Wandering Through Kunsthal" opens with a sparse, start-stop, reverb-heavy guitar ostinato that leaves you in pretty much the same place at the end. It's a track that floats on by, with little flourishes thrown in to make the journey more pleasing.
The word "wandering" is key throughout the whole album; New Earth feels like a pleasurable stroll through Isaak's own Fraser Valley. Indeed, songs like "An Alpine Forest" and "River Walk" sound exactly as you might imagine if you picture them in this context. They're pleasant, and they show Isaak's constant connection with nature, the beauty the natural world can reveal.
Themes for a Dying Earth featured some of Isaak's strongest songwriting yet, and while this companion album doesn't really showcase the strong sense of melody he was able to evoke there, Isaak brings out a feeling of wonder here more than anything. The natural world is a wondrous place, but there are questions about it we can't answer, problems we can't solve. And perhaps for Isaak, that element of mystery is the most wondrous of them all. (FLORA records)