To describe the Seven Fields of Aphelion's new album as "pretty" is neither a compliment nor an insult; it just is. Soft washes of synth, perpetually sighing vocals, tasteful piano and understated electronic effects are all delivered here with unabashed enthusiasm. If the album were any lighter, it might well float away.
All of that is to say Keep the Ocean Inside is a beautifully produced double-LP that will have great appeal for a specific audience. Others will find themselves reaching for something a bit more substantial at the end of its 51 minutes.
Seven Fields is a solo project featuring Maureen "Maux" Boyle. We can safely assume that the seven-year break since her debut Periphery is a numerical coincidence (the artist has been busy on a variety of projects, including playing keyboards with TOBACCO and Black Moth Super Rainbow).
The album opens with "Divining (Name of the Lost)," whose dreamy, calming feel is very much indicative of what's to come. The track occupies a high-pitched, relatively narrow range that is — again, depending on your point of view — delightfully meditative or repetitive and a bit grating. "Horizon Obscure" follows in a similar vein. It's a more straightforward electronic composition whose title suits it perfectly.
The highlight here, and the album's longest piece, is "Triptych/Going Under/The Blur/The Way Beyond," which features a handsome piano performance. Despite its immersion in synth effects, it has a new classical feel that lends the album gravitas. "High Water Mark (To Wash Away)," another standout, closes out the disc with a level of intensity, and even a bit of distortion, that adds dimension to the overall project. Incorporating more of both may have turned this good album into a very good one. (Rad Cult)