In a genre defined by ethereal atmospheres, silken soundscapes, and heavenly, soaring electronics, it is rare to encounter ambient music that boasts of its motion and direction as much as Adam Schmieder’s cinematic debut offering.
Announced as a debut EP, this piece of work from the Torrance-based composer, producer, and minimalist clocks in at a whopping 50 minutes of length, through its five grand and sprawling pieces of driving ambiance. With an astonishing standard of production quality that can be easily attributed to Schmieder’s experience as a composer of award-winning film and video game scores, listening to ‘Past the Ladder’ feels like a haunting, immersive experience that gracefully heaves and flows between its gently differing soundscapes. From the glitchy, elegant starter ‘To The Light’, passing by the soaring and supersonic strings of ‘Mythis Avanae’, ending with the alarming warmth of the gargantuan closer ‘Catharsis’, it’s a pleasure to witness Schmieder’s effortless ability to weave seemingly minimal compositions that possess an endlessly busy and buzzing core.
Gradually increasing in length, the pieces, built around a steady, time-related rise in the scale, also feature a gradual increase of scope and grandeur, with the first piece being a 5-minute-long swarming piece of glitching clicks and electronically sampled, seemingly haphazard percussive elements, composed what sounds like metal pipes clanging, water droplets, wind noises, and an all-out war between plastic elements, among a million other samples. It’s a challenging piece of avant-garde music that showcases Schmieder’s ability to achieve total control over what comes out of the speakers. Intersecting Point, my personal favorite, starts with an organic ascent of a picturesque synth that reaches an early, sustained climax of scenic, cinematic grandeur. A stunning piece of minimal, provocative, rhythmic ambiance. The enigmatically titled ‘Mythis Avanae’ follows a similar route that reaches its climax through intricate sound design that ramps up in complexity while remaining haunting, spectral, and sonically intriguing throughout. The penultimate ‘Glory: The Abrasion of Fear’ is the most musically nuanced piece on the EP, with prominent melody lines interweaving throughout the composition, while the swirling, swarming, synths and pads aptly permeate the empty spaces.
Past the Ladder of Horizon is an inspiring piece of musical art, with its inaccessibility wonderfully balanced by the inviting atmospheres, the complex and rich sound design, and the beautiful, haunting, minimal compositions. Adam Schmieder is a consummate professional, in full control of his craft, and the resulting product is of stunning beauty, and scope, and is of the highest quality.