A churning sensation. Ribbons of sound envelop us in their stringy saturation. We’re staring deep into the darkness and it feels like the darkness is staring right back at us. Ethan Gold’s new album Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals) isn’t music for the faint of heart. It requires focus and intellectual open-mindedness. But if you’re the kind of music enthusiast who appreciates sensationalism as expressed through the content of textures within a song instead of through artificially constructed narratives, this is the man to see. All of the blackness that washes over the sky (“In Open Air at Last”) sets the stage perfectly for the collection of suffocating, ethereal soundscapes that are about to be unleashed upon us. Like crickets chirping at twilight, the buzzing of controlled feedback leads us on a moonlit adventure into an abandoned funhouse in a bald spot of the forest (“Departure”). Inside we wander the hallways and become hypnotized by the distorted imagery that is all around us before suddenly finding ourselves trapped in this place with no signs of escape (“Concrete Sweat”).
In our isolation, our emotions scatter into numerous dark corners of the mind; in succession we feel joyful, almost stoned psychosis (“Aqua Petal”), fractured and trapped (“Corrosion”), awake and confused (“Lizards Enter the Rain Forest”) and finally, self-aware (“On the North Sea”). We’re compelled to find a way out of this mess, by any means necessary, once we’ve realized that this is all a dream, and we’re the ones who are asleep (“High Clocks”). The pursuit that follows is much more urgent than the first portion of our journey, but such is the nature of a making a hasty escape (“The Newest Crazy Element”). The remainder of Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals)sees our implied antihero flashing through another series of locales within his own mind (“Zion Pools,” “Crossing the Bar,” and “Missing”), before finally coming to what could only be summarized as a merciful awakening from this deep slumber.
As a music critics, but moreover as a fan, I must say that it really doesn’t get much better than a record like Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals) when you’re looking for pure ambience that transcendentally takes us to somewhere unearthly and stunning. In 13 songs, we travel the distance of the entire globe within, and outside of, our own consciousness. I don’t know about anyone else, but records like these are my reason for getting into independent music in the first place. Ethan Gold is the definition of what it means to be an intrepid composer and performer. He commands respect and attention with every piece of a song, not just a catchy lyric or a fun drum pattern. It’s so much more for him. It isn’t enough just to make music that is cute or relatable to most people on a surface level. For Gold, this is about expressing the voice of God through the only means that we have to on this humble planet of ours. If you think you’re able to handle what sound itself actually feels like, pick up Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals) this July.