Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ron Thomas & John Swana - Serenity (Galtta Media, 2019)

The folks over at Galtta fly in some interesting airspace.  They play with bizarre-yet-smooth pop, and then they’ll throw a curveball at you with a record like Serenity.  This beast is a kosmische maelstrom courtesy of two jazz types who moonlight as electronic conjurers.  Swana is a trumpeter who also wields the EVI (electronic valve instrument) and Thomas is a pianist and composer whose ivory-tickling strays into the electronic keyboard and synth realm.  Together they romp around the house built by Tangerine Dream and it’s to great effect.

A blizzard of sound washes over a thick, rubbery bass line as “Message” comes into focus.  A series of synthetic murmurs morphs into a siren call that really draws you in and wraps you in the duo’s web of intimate sonics.  And yes, these sonics are intimate: like a warm embrace by firelight while you’re looking out the window to watch the snowflakes fly.  This comforting resonance continues through to “Rainforest”, with its amalgamation of birdsong and synthetic clouds of bliss.  The tones wash over you as you explore ever deeper into the piece, uncovering unclassified species of sound.

With “Foundation”, the duo take the proceedings in an extraterrestrial direction.  This is the longest piece on the cassette, which gives Thomas and Swana plenty of space to explore other realms of sound.  Stars collide and nebulae transform before our eyes as the ambient drift goes ever onward.  The title track brings these dreamlike events to a close.  The elastic bass from earlier reappears, anchoring the experience to our home planet, even as the uncanny resonance leads us toward the heavens.  Eventually, one by one, each tone evaporates, leaving us wiping our brow in exalted exhaustion.

You too can find serenity by heading over to the Galtta Bandcamp.  Buckle up and prepare for liftoff!!