Posted on May 24th, 2011 (1:00 pm) by Bo Smothers

Playing ambient or drone music is a definite high-wire act. If not done correctly, or at least interestingly, one runs the risk of falling into either the realm of neutered elevator music, or conversely, alienating (sometimes scary) avant-garde noise. It's not easy to maintain that balance, nor is it a road well-traveled, considering how few and far between ambient acts are, and as such when one finds a band that can, they'd better hold on to it for all they're worth, because it'll be some time before they can find another ambient album to fill that want in their life.

Unfortunately, White Mountain's Lightforms EP (to be released June 7th via Waaga Records)is not that album, and does not walk that tightrope well enough to satisfy – falling instead into the first category mentioned, that of inoffensive, forgettable background noise. That being said, Peter James (AKA White Mountains) – a New Hampshire electro producer/composer - only misses the mark by a little bit, and although most of the album is suited almost exclusively to filling up silence – as is most save the best of ambient music – there is one track that, by virtue of a small thread of linear sound, lends itself more readily to the ears of the regular listener.

This song is “Arc of Light,” the last song on the album, and the only one that houses within it's layered drones and synth washes a distinct nucleus around which the song can revolve and in turn be grounded by. This nucleus is the distinct, marching, sometimes almost industrial percussion that appears as soon as the track gains body - about a minute in – and doesn't dissipate until the song is near three minutes in, whereat the song becomes a large, enveloping series of synth washes.

What determines this album's quality is really more a question of situation – of purpose – than of preference. If you're in the market for something to listen to while you do other things, something to fall asleep to, or take a couple Ambien and zonk out to, this will do. If you want something to listen to, become engaged in, and enjoy, keep looking. This album isn't awful, but it ain't good either. Ambient music is hard to do well. Peter James didn't quite get it this time, but neither do a lot of people.

Track List
1. Wavelength
2. Spectra
3. Radiance
4. Motion Sequence (feat. Pandit)
5. Slow Ebb
6. Arc of Light

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

41 / 100
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