Forming out of distant melodies somehow coming into transcendent unity, “Alfaskeid 21” from Mighty Bear is both fragile and ominous all at once, protruding through the speakers with immense physicality and yet feeling as though it could collapse under the weight of a soft wind. This type of duality isn’t typical of the mainstream pop beat, and thus, I suppose we shouldn’t be all that surprised to find it as the cornerstone of an entire compilation piece from OIM Records, Shared Secrets: Wave, this spring. Joined by the likes of Dean Thomas and Knuckled Fruit, Mighty Bear present but one reason to check this comp out – even if it could be reason enough all on its own.
Oghamyst use melodic tension to convey a narrative in “Set My Heart Ablaze” much as we find in “Aura” and Themorethanevers’ “Last Forever,” while Nene’s Butler utilize tempo almost exclusively in telling their story through “We Are Controlling,” as is also the case with “Lost – Found” and Death Rider Demons’ absolutely stunning “Robot Friend.” Despite the differences in technique, the continuity in this tracklist exists through the multidimensionality of its players, which is more than can be said for the last couple of indie comps I’ve reviewed in 2021.
One of the most consistent elements in Shared Secrets: Wave is production quality, which is as brilliant in Vox Initium’s “Spatial Ascension” as it is Simpll Sin’s “Rain” and Clef’s “Old Days.” Everything here upholds a remarkably high standard that I’m starting to see and hear more and more of in 2021’s experimental music movement, and while I’ve yet to get anything nearly as satisfying out of the commercial vein in pop, I can see the approach these acts are taking becoming influential a lot sooner than later. The entire selection of artists bring it hard in this LP, making it rather hard to pick favorites right out of the gate.
Listen to Shared Secrets: WAVE below
Movie Night and Astralien don’t need lyricism to emit a lot of powerful poetry in their performances here, and I think it’s actually rather telling of their individual creative depths that both “Splash!” and “Seriphos” are able to deliver as much as they do with such minimalistic framework. The sharp textures in the latter control the mood in a way nothing else could have, while the former flirts with much of the same acerbic punchiness valo.fisen’s “Rooftop Sunset” does (sans the eloquence, of course).
Fearlessly compelling around every turn, I was surprised by just how fantastic a listen each one of the tracks included with Shared Secrets: Wave really is, and if this is on par with what OIM Records are going to be producing on a regular basis over the years to come they’re likely to see a tremendous amount of success with critics and fans the same. This has a spiritual overtone that really resonates with me as a music aficionado, but moreover, the overall stylization of this LP makes it accessible to any audience, serious and casual alike, which by itself makes this an unorthodoxly exciting release for the ambient genre in 2021.