Resonant Drift, originality a moniker for Bill Olien's ambient explorations project The Drift took on a new direction when a fortuitous meeting occurred with ambient guitar artist Gary Johnson at a week-long Master Class with Steve Roach in 2008. They became fast friends though their mutual passions for sound explorations, and THE CALL was quickly fordged as the first release from the duo drawing enthuastic reviews and setting the course for future soundscape dreamings.
A review by John Shanahan, Hypnagogue:
"Two things are different about the second Resonant Drift CD, THE CALL. The first is the addition of guitarist Gary Johnson, taking Resonant Drift from being Bill Olien's solo secret identity to a working duo. The second was a move toward a quieter, more contemplative and (ahem) drifting feel than on his previous disk, Flow Mingled Down, with subtle tribal overtones in the mix as well. On this Steve Roach-mastered disc, Olien and Johnson craft layered soundscapes that conjure open spaces and shadow-painted lairs, the sacred places of our ancestors and in our minds. THE CALL moves through hushed, meditative drifts ("Understand Now," "Deep Calls Unto Deep," and "Answer"), dark explorations ("The Question" and "Breaking Free") and intense rhythmic tracks like the superb "Invocation," where a tribal beat punctuates long-drawn pads. And when Olien and Johnson meld these styles into a single track, it works very well. I find myself awakening, for lack of a better word, in the midst of "Beneath Strange Fire," having been lulled by its calming, darkness-edged drifts. My mind responds to a gentle sense of expectancy that arises and I come up with the sound. A beat slips in under the sound for a few minutes before fading, taking the mind quietly downward once more. THE CALL works very nicely as a quiet, looped listen but will also hold up played at volume. I like this new direction Bill Olien has taken. In fact, I like it enough to suggest that THE CALL is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD."
A review by Phil Derby, Electoambient Space:
"Resonant Drift is Bill Olien and Gary Johnson, and THE CALL is my first introduction to their music, although they do have prior releases. THE CALL was mastered by Steve Roach, who is also credited with "sonic enhancement". The title track starts slowly and subtly, with gently flowing synthesizers and quietly chirping birds. Melody and rhythm are absent on this particular track, emphasizing the formless sonic textures. The bar is set high for the rest of the album, and thankfully it delivers. "Invocation" brings a slow pounding tribal beat to join the flowing atmospheric elements. Softest yet is the ethereal "Understand Now", which combines brighter shimmering tones with deeply resonant sounds in the lower register. "Recapitulation" is a beautiful, somewhat haunting piece, followed by "Beneath Strange Fire", which delves fully into dark ambient territory, a rumbling wall of drones. Many tracks are quite minimal, setting and holding a mood or a sound and just going with it, a technique that works well throughout. Changes are subtle yet distinctive. "Breaking Free" features cool percussion in the background that seems simultaneously organic and synthetic, as incongruous as that sounds. Although the band credits Steve Roach, Robert Rich and others for inspiration, Resonant Drift have their own take on floating dark ambient that you should definitely seek out."
A review by Rik at Ping Things:
"I was first introduced to Resonant Drift a few years ago when Bill Olien contacted me about his debut disc, "Flow Mingled Down". I was particularly impressed with his ability to create environment and atmosphere on that album, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I was really excited about hearing his latest release "THE CALL". For this outing Bill has collaborated with new musical partner Gary Johnson, and the end result is a stunning work of ambient brilliance where every track presents a beautiful and unique space to explore.
"THE CALL" opens the disc by creating a quiet natural environment, a lush garden in the rain where birds twitter and chirp. Tones slowly rise up from the soundscape, eventually taking the lead. Pads wash through the space, creating an ebb and flow overtop a deep spacey drone. "Invocation" follows, a track that has a strong sense of tribal magic and ritual to it, with light percussion playing along to a low, deep pad, while higher tones swirl around in the background. It's a deep and dense track filled with beauty and wonder, and it's a personal favorite on this disc.
The later track "Recapitulation" is a shorter piece that begins with a muffled sound as if tones are heard from a distance suggesting isolation and separation. It creates a mood and space very quickly within the course of it's short length, a lonely space in the midst of the rest of the release which leads directly into the next track "Beneath Strange Fire", where tones become clearer and the environment is made more distinct. This one brings to mind a beach of some sort, wind and bonfires littered along the shore, something almost post-apocalyptic, calm yet somehow ominous. Eventually subtle percussion is added, bringing something new to the proceedings, ultimately filling out the track. Truly a great creation of space.
The second half of the disc brings to mind a suite of sorts, a collection of tracks that seem to recount a life from birth through to death. From the womb-like serenity of "Deep Calls Unto Deep" and "The Question", through the pulse and celebration of "The Longing" and the darker and somewhat final sounds of "Answer", these six tracks suggest a timeless organic cycle that really appeals to me, a feeling of order and natural progression. Admittedly I might be completely off the mark on what they're trying to say here, but either way it connects and resonates with me, and really, what better compliment can any artist hope for than to make a connection with their audience? Needless to say, this suite is particularly wonderful work from Olien and Johnson, music that really inspires.
The disc closes out with "Reply", a track that brings the listener full circle to the same environment we were in at the beginning of the disc, the same lush garden space, but now with something more that we've taken from our journey throughout the course of the disc. It's almost as though we've gained something as a result of what we've heard, lessons learned or secrets revealed. Somehow it seems as though the listener is meant to be part of the environment that's been created, we're not only welcome in this lush garden, we're meant to be there. It's a wonderful connection to the music, one that resonates with me even after the last notes of the disc have played.
Olien and Johnson have done a great job of creating an engaging and appealing environment for listeners on this release. Each track seems to create and develop its own space both elegantly and precisely. "THE CALL" is a tremendously strong release and it's been in constant rotation in my CD player since I got it. Do yourself a favour and check it out, you won't be disappointed."