Various Artists

Thousands of Eyes in the Dark

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Thousands of Eyes in the Dark is the third full-length compilation released as part of Ghostly International's SMM series, which is essentially shorthand for the label's most experimental output. Not strictly ambient, IDM, or modern composition, the series' releases tend to blur the lines between all three, and generally focus on drifting, slow-moving melodies and wayward textures rather than the forward motion of the label's club-friendly releases. Like previous volumes Context and Opiate, Thousands of Eyes features numerous contributions from non-Ghostly signees, making it a mini-document of the ambient music landscape at the time of production. Only one of the tracks on the release runs longer than five minutes, and the pieces feel like spontaneous, in-the-moment manifestations. Emily A. Sprague's "Mesa" is perhaps the most relaxing reverie here, seeming to both trickle like a stream and calmly float upward. Grand River's brief but lovely "This Was Us" is simple and sparkling, with just enough strangeness around the edges. Beats are used sparingly here, occasionally flickering in during the opening track by SK U KNO (aka Suzanne Kraft), and steadily thumping throughout the lush, cooing ambient techno of Khotin's "Angel Epicenter," which also has a nice, comforting bass line. Saariselka's "Shepherd Canyon" is an unbound steel guitar lament, while Space Afrika's stirring, chime-filled "Canu" is more of a celestial voyage. Yosi Horikawa's "Thalfang" surrounds solemn pianos and a clean, restrained bass line with the reassuring sounds of bird calls, which make the piece sound deeper and more intricate. The album's selections inhabit several disparate moods, but they're all united by their sense of reflection and earnest expression.

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