"Harpoon of Sunlight" sees Neil Lord's project Future Museums releasing on Austin label Aural Canyon, a label whose tagline reads "Deep listening for the new, now age." While Lord also releases on Holodeck, the switch is appropriate for his latest, a work initially conceived as "an hour and a half long album exercising patience and repetition," of which the most melodic portions were pressed to the first vinyl release for both the artist and label. Recorded in quarantine in 2020, the resulting album reflects the intense Texas summer heat, alternating between warming and traumatic, interrupted only by cooler evening breezes that serve as a reprieve. Inventive percussive sounds are delicately strewn through atmospheric synths and motorik rhythms, providing a balance between hard and soft, and hot to cool, serving as an aural respite for the challenges of the past couple of years.
Leading off with "Hum Body," the percussive elements stand front and center, providing a foundational rhythm offset by ethereal electronics. Lord utilizes his mastery of electronics to deliver depth and expanse throughout, using sustained notes and sound manipulation to encourage a deep listening experience. While the album is solid as a whole, some of the results are more penetrating than others, particularly on "Earthside" and the title track. In "Earthside," Lord guides us through rolling waves of gently undulating sound, encouraging immersion by providing a rich soundscape of melody, moving up and down a scale of notes interspersed by worldly and otherworldly sounds. "Harpoon of Sunlight" appears as a stab of sound warmth, building in intensity, driven by a heart-wrenching melody that builds into a grandiose finish, all the while capturing the feeling Lord is leading his listeners higher and higher into the sky. It's almost as if one can feel the sunlight sparkling on leaves.
Closing track "Morning Reception" is another standout track, a worthy conclusion to an album that serves to guide the listener metaphorically through the night and out into the light. What better way to express movement from dark to light than through an aural expression of greeting a fresh new day? The prolific Lord surely has more up his sleeve; I've yet to be disappointed in any Future Museums release. May this wonderful album bring his name further into the light.
Samples can be found here.