by John Shanahan, Hypnagogue
On his debut CD TRANSMUTING CURRENTS, John Vorus creates a dark, fathomless and purely evocative soundworld that is equal parts mystery and wonder. Unhurried and fluid, Currents moves through its nine component pieces on lush, deepwater-drift synth pads augmented with bits of organic sound, always bordering on darkness without crossing fully into it. We are clearly in deep water, perhaps the deepest, in the reaches where the sun cannot penetrate, where our consciousness first began to form, and we are not alone--but we know we're safe here. And so we float in willful surrender, trusting in and given over to the soundcurrent.
The middle section of the CD, the excellent combination of the tracks "Water Cairn 1" and "Swampland Dub," lifts the listener toward the surface with stronger physical elements--drums and Vorus' superb didgeridoo work. The arrival of the beat in no way detracts from the slow, relaxing journey. Rather, it enhances, breathes air into and invigorates it. From there, the impression across the next three tracks is of emerging in some vast grotto rife with secrets and ancient, undisturbed life. The current bears us easily along until, in the final track, "Krill," we submerge again, drifting ever downward and accepting our gentle return to something quietly and comfortably primordial.
It is impossible not to completely immerse yourself in this work. Vorus has seamlessly layered myriad elements here, and Currents reveals more of itself and the elegant density of its crafting with each subsequent listen. It is an ideal headphone experience, and superb for meditation or low-volume repeated play.
Kudos also to Vorus and whoever put the disk together for the packaging design on this CD. The CD sleeve slides into an outer cover with the track listing on the back. The all-black material is smooth and embossed, and the cover art on the CD sleeve is stunning.
For lovers of drifting ambient, TRANSMUTING CURRENTS is a Hypnagogue Gotta-Get CD.