It’s definitely a bit of a misnomer to feature Nicholas Gunn in our New Artist Spotlight tag but somehow a great oversight has occurred here at YEDM and we’ve never actually featured this ambient and experimental electronica veteran. The “spotlight” bit is definitely apt, however, as Gunn’s new album, Sound Condition, deserves more than one.
Having created beautiful, new-age tinged music since 1992 and having skirted the divide between ambient electronica and EDM for almost three decades now, it’s wonderful to see an artist like Gunn still creating and, more than that, releasing music with a purpose of healing. We all could certainly need some help with that as we say a hasty goodbye to 2020 and look for the parting clouds in 2021. Gunn says Sound Condition is about exactly that healing journey the whole planet will be on this year.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that being in sound condition (in every respect) matters…When I look back at this past year, we have seen absurdity on a level not experienced in anyone’s lifetime. The ability to manipulate mass audiences, create chaos and divide and infect society can be attributed to a few people in control who lack the very definition of being in sound condition. It’s the antithesis of a life lived with a deep concern for humanity. A reality created only by the self- desire to suit one’s own personal agenda.”
The album title isn’t just a clever pun in Gunn’s mind. The music he makes has always been set to heal and help, and this meditative album does just that. While it’s definitely in the new age/ambient register, Sound Condition is also musically very technically advance. We’re not just talking panflutes and wind noises, here, although Gunn himself plays the flute and employs it liberally in tracks like “The Unfolding” and “My Body Is a Temple”.
The subtle breakbeats and ravey transitions in tracks like “Angels” featuring Alina Renae, the title track and “Language” help ground the listener as the perfectly arranged piano melodies and pitch-perfect ambient sound design lift up and settle the restless soul. Other tracks like are more decidedly ambient and beatless and in fact the album ends with a spine-tingling triad of them: “Just Us” features Alina Renae’s beautiful vocals again and is accompanied by Gunn’s flawless piano, while “Flow” has lashings of deeper, tribal tones. Finally, “The Promise” is a pop anthem with a purpose, an excellent close to the true healing journey Gunn wants Sound Condition to be.
With almost 30 years to hone his craft, it’s no wonder Sound Condition is such a polished masterpiece. He’s drawn on all the eras of rave, ambient and healing music and put it in one album which examines the past to release it and brings “The Promise” of a better future. It’s a perfect combination of ambient and dance music, healing and release. Gunn’s aim for sound condition through Sound Condition is more than achieved.
Sound Condition is out now and can be streamed on Spotify.