Better known for his series of dance floor-friendly electronic singles, Michael Red has adopted the moniker Souns to release nine affecting ambient and avant-garde pieces as Aquamarine, the first full-length of his career. Although the Vancouver musician strips down his usual busy sound here — removing his hypnotic and pulsating drum beats — there's an element that's unmistakably his.
Rather than relying on slick polyrhythms, Red moves each song forward with strategically-placed synth sounds, whether it's the syncopated bells that make up the foggy opener "Echoes in the Forest (Part 2)" or the random-generated decayed thuds of the sci-fi-esque "Sun Inside the Sun." Then there are tracks like "To Sleep" and "Untouched," which come off impossibly cinematic and epic due to Red's tight, sparse arrangements. As Red closes off the LP with two of his most patient ambient tracks, the not-much-more-than-a-hiss of "Open Face Sun" and the tone-shifting hum of "The Sound," it only demonstrates how many mechanisms Red operates throughout this quiet piece of art.
On Aquamarine, Souns shows how recognizable and sophisticated his sound has become, no matter which way he chooses to package it. (Subtempo Records)