Ambient music can be a challenge to define. To pinpoint what can be considered ambient music you might be tempted to check out the work of Brian Eno or similar composers who use minimalism and minimalistic arrangements, creating in the process dreamlike soundscapes that are at once barren, but lush with intricate detail. SØVN’s debut EP made me reconsider a bit what ambient music can be like because, in its relatively bustling arrangements, full of prominent melodies and driving drum lines, there was a lot of ambiance created. Vision of Sound is a breezy introductory EP that is soulful, sophisticated, melancholic, and thought-provoking.
Based in the American heartland state of Nebraska, Monowi to be exact, SØVN is a one-person project that is on their debut EP. Stating Khruangin among their inspirations, the music on Vision of Sound conjured to mind the sound of a far more obscure group called Hungry Ghosts. Similarities are immediately touching melodies, and arrangements based around guitars and less familiar sounds. While Hungry Ghosts uses ethnic instruments, SØVN uses lush pads and electronic elements. On Vision of Sound’s short 7 songs, SØVN displays themselves as comfortable with guitars and with immediate melodies. Takes no long time to set a scene, instead choosing to throw the listeners headfirst into the cloudy atmospheres and throbbing melodies. A bit like the music of the brilliant act Cemeteries, but far less gloomy.
Standing out among the EP are the 2nd, 4th, and 6th tracks, all wholly instrumental. ‘Windfall #16’ is a far too short stunner that washed me over with slow, gentle but heavy chord changes, a sudden distorted guitar motif, and a passage of heart-stopping vocal wails. Tasteful and sad. The EP’s central track, titled ‘Interlude’ started with an acoustic guitar line in a deep, brooding dropped tuning, the drone of the thickest string dropped down fully utilized to create a bass-heavy sound that’s soft and pillowy. And going with the piece’s delicate fingerstyle arrangement, the relaxation element skyrocketed. ‘Airees #18’ is the album’s most cheerful number. The relatively brisker pace, the keyboard-based arrangement, the puffy drumline, and the cyclic, major-sounding chord progression and accompanying melody all were delightfully optimistic.
SØVN does not intend to change the musical landscape with its debut release. Indeed, the up-and-coming musician, who busks occasionally in NYC where they will be starting college in the next year, seems to be on a project of passion, giving it their all. The results are direct and easy to feel, wholesomely produced, and crafted with love. An album that ends too soon, If Vision of Sound lacks in anything, it is in more music.