[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
The surprises just keep coming.
Sinewy textures and interstellar scope are what first jumped out at me when listening to the latest album from SN-A, a completely engaging take on time and space. It’s been a while since this formation had anything out, and to be honest ‘Tranmissions’ didn’t sound too terribly different from the parent project; as always, the mind behind all of this was just warming up. If you’re wanting more of the addictive hooks which ‘Secrets’ contained you won’t be finding them here. You won’t get any angelic vocals, either or driving beats.
What lies beyond the visible spectrum of light, those dark little corners of our universe we can only hazard a guess about. It is this unexplored and unending continuum of silence which ‘Distance’ seeks to put into song form. A dizzying task, yes, but consider who’s at the controls. One set of hands created all of this, try to remember that as your own consciousness is expanded by the material contained herein; he’s even gone so far as to give us two video clips with which to try giving form to the formless. All my years spent listening to guys like Jarre and Froese go right out the window as Ni-Arb has delivered a brilliantly unique new version of what they sought out yet never fully realized.
This vision which comprises ‘Distance’ is an unwavering one, melodically nuanced yet completely outside the boundaries of what this artist has done previously. The layers of production are so seamless, so perfectly executed that what at first sounded like mere wonderment at the vastness of infinity is revealed to not only focus in on each detail but then view them from every conceivable perspective. A record such as what we’ve got here is rare, especially in these times where music when not commodified has become a disposable means to an end for the intellectually deprived.
I find that his second run since 2010 has become something of a renaissance for synthesis as creative imperative, he’s one of the few with the patience to see everything through to its fruition. While Mentallo turn the machines loose to run wild, Sevren Ni-Arb brings them to heel yet somehow still manages to give everything just the right amount of breathing space. You can hear this delicate balancing act being fine tuned and ever so subtly adjusted all throughout a record which like it’s name, goes the distance. There are no meandering soliloquies, no wasted opportunities and absolutely not a note out of place.
As a programmer, there are few who can operate on the level of symmetrical perfection which he does; his career has evolved into knowing just where to slip in a progression or how to affect the mood of one’s listener by changing the key while expounding upon arcane topics: here you will find the answers you seek but it is a realm wrought out of shadows; perceivable only for a short while courtesy of SN-A’s keen observations and biting insight.