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CD Feature/ Gel Sol: "IZ"

img  Tobias
In the Winter, even format radio has its upsides. As soon as it gets hot outside, however, long-forgotten feel-good bodies are being dug out from their happy graves, cluttering the airwaves with a polyphonic hum about the Californian dream. Maybe Gel-Sol’s Andrew Reichel should be promoting his third album as an alternative to this perennial sonic necrophilia and start sending “IZ” to stations worldwide.

For even though “IZ” is an Ambient album in every corner of its soul, there is a warm heart beating underneath its glistening string textures, a relaxed pulse perfectly suited for daydreaming in the park with a cooling blanket over your face and a refreshing drink within immediate reach. Reichel’s weightless sounds may seem to be headed for space, for the stars and beyond, but really, they are aural representations of nature, of its well-balanced forms and inner harmony.

One could already discern this tendency on his previous efforts and on predecessor “Unifactor” especially, which came adorned with a cover depicting a countryside idyll. If Reichel appears to have taken the idea one step further on “IZ”, then maybe this is because the record manages to combine the depth of a concept album with the fluffy, playful aura of a multicolour pop song. No wonder, as it was consciously conceived as an all-ambient adventure for his niece Izabella.

With this in mind, we sincerely hope the young lady is capable of handling a hearty dose of darkness and melancholia. For after the first half of the album, lovingly draped in sepia tones and auburn imagery, has subsided, Reichel sets course for a more autumnal feeling, sailing with wings of whisper on yearning winds on “Secret Island”, loosing himself in the undulating reverb of billowing drones on “Raneboze” or following the patting echo of a meditation tape down the winding corridors of ten-minute mantra “Orca”.

There is, however, always a friendly light around the bend. On pieces like the calmly breathing static soundscapes “Mourning Work” or “Bubble in the Sky”, Reichel rests completely in the moment, allowing his gaze to roam freely, before, on the ecstatic, groove-driven hymn “As far as eye can see”, his hot air balloon rises up, up and away into the blue sky. And after the turbulences and occasionally claustrophobic episodes of the later stages of the album, he brings the journey to a consoling conclusion in the hazy fantasy of “Your Day in the Sun”.

It is the stylistic eclecticism on the one hand and the inclusion of gentle yet insistent melodic spikes that makes “IZ” such a varied and catchy affair, even though it fundamentally bases on the same luscious harmonic carpets of so many other Ambient releases. There are plenty of savoury details everywhere and it is these sudden moments of bliss that will make you fall in love with the album: The voice repeating “I love you” on “Your Day in the Sun” or the way the bass comes gliding into “Secret Island”, for example.

And should those format radio executives refuse to be charmed, you can still crank up the voluime and open your window to make the Summer just that little bit better in your immediate neighbourhood.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Gel Sol
Homepage: Psychonavigation Records

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