If a kaleidoscope made synth sounds as the light twinkled inside it.
There is something entrancing about ‘Glass Gallery’, the new album from Nick Schofield. Most of the songs have a slow, melodic dance to them as if they are ballerinas turning around slowly inside a music box. Except this music box is entirely composed by a Sequential Circuits Prophet-600 synthesizer. I adore out-there styled synth albums and this is certainly one of them.
The best way to describe ‘Glass Gallery’ is if a kaleidoscope made synth synths as the light beams changed colour. So much of what makes the album work is down to its rhythmic pulses and trills. Opener ‘Central Atrium’ is a beautiful demure rotation of melodies and chords. ‘Mirror Image’ is a little more Philip Glass aligned with wiry synths bustling like free clouds in the sky. Other pieces like ‘Getty Garden’ and ‘Water Court’ have a vintage tape warmth to them and remind me heavily of zen puzzle games or indie platformer games like ‘Fez’ or ‘The Gardens Between’. Warm, fuzzy, nostalgic and mindful.
Nick Schofield composed the album in Ottawa during snowstorms and snow feels like a character in the album. Whether it is the metallic plinks throughout ‘Molinarism’ or the squishy and rubbery playful synths of ‘Snow Blue Square’ – you could imagine the whole album scoring the ice towns in RPG’s. Other tracks are more evocative of a sci-fi edge because of how wiry the synths are such as ‘Kissing Wall’ and ‘Travertine Museum’. Whilst sci-fi lovers will enjoy the album, I wouldn’t class it as a sci-fi synth album. This is a highly meditative and melodic experience. It is about feeling the flow of the rhythm of the synths through each track. They all have a heartbeat to them, even the glacial synth bleed of beautiful closer ‘Key of Klee’. Not one drum is used yet the whole album pulsates like it is alive and breathing.
A genuinely uplifting and airy experience, Nick Schofield has created a hidden gem of synth music. Playfully stoic and peaceful at all times whilst feeling like the music is mentally hugging you too, it is a difficult balance to get right and still be musically interesting. Nick has got it down to perfection with ‘Glass Gallery’ and it is one of my favourite synth releases in the past year.
Recommended track: Travertine Museum
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