Billow Observatory – III: Chroma/Contour (Azure Vista Records, 2019)

Have you ever thought back and considered when the first time you enjoyed your first sunrise and sunset was? I’ve thought about this before, perhaps never vocalised it here, but it is fascinating to me that a memory like that seems lost to time. Instances come close, whether these were the first moments that I found beauty in those scenes or are simply the first time I remember the feeling I don’t know. Memory is curiously unreliable, though I know it must have happened, the repercussions of some singularly crystalline morning or noteworthy twilight rippling through the pattern of my consciousness.

Chroma/Contour is not really about the view or the memory of the view, but rather what the view instils, what the tone and colour of the light defines in ourselves. Take for example penultimate “Bright Lands Rising”, whose cloaked Earth finds its misty veil lifted through the soft and elegant outpouring of light as the day matures. In as much as its shimmering dissolution reveals the world to a new day it reverberates in allegory, our spirits lifting along with the disappearing water vapour into a rapturous and emboldened future.

There’s a contentedness in illumination, something comforting about being bathed in its reassuring glow. “Color In The Six” unravels delicately, guitars bent into gentle and pastel smears as light creeps around the curtains, under the doorframes. Crystal synths begin to precipitate, the mind returning to fullness in the cool and delicate insistence that bleeds and bends and reflects softly into us.

Its spiritual successor “Soft Logic” shows us there remains beauty in its departure, sweet drones laying a darkling sky out ahead of us as the guitar bends in melancholy. A certain energy is being spirited away, the day stolen from us as space sucks golden radiance through crooning and humming air, melting through peaches and purples into irrepressible, inky navy. This tidal flow of photons governs us, an inexorable rhythm set deep inside ourselves: we are slaves to it, tied physically and emotionally to its movements.

This goes beyond consciousness, as finalĂ© “Memory Resonance” paints out. Almost hymnal tones lull quietly, lost in some deep reverie in the recesses of the mind. There’s something so familiar about every sunrise and every sunset isn’t there? Each one distinct and unique in its own right, and yet somehow feeling oddly timeless. As we descend into these ethereal passages are we exploring our true feelings, elucidating some connection between ourselves and the scene in the here and now, or are we plumbing some innate biological reaction that has been shaping human instinct and thought processes for millenia?

I still can’t remember that first memorable sunrise, or that first remarkable sunset, but I’m reminded here that their presence and form live on in every one I’ve seen after the fact, echoes of form and beauty revealed again with each passing day.