After four years, we finally have a new Keith Berry album. I loved his last release, Towards the Blue Peninsula, so I was anticipating this one with high expectations. I must admit I was disappointed on first listen. On Elixir, Berry sticks to the style of textured ambient drones that characterized the last album, but here the sounds are darker, deeper, and not as immediately accessible. That’s not a bad thing, it just takes more effort to appreciate.
The album spends a lot of time with gauzy, layered, syrupy textures. There is a melancholy feeling to many of the tracks but it never feels cheap, saccharine, or maudlin. Rather than have all the tracks blend into each other, Berry has sequenced the album so that each piece uses fading techniques and volume increases to signify the progression to the next track. Although this can be tricky to get right, I think he made it work here.
Some of my favorite moments on the album are when Berry does something unexpected. For example, just as I’m settled into this being a dark album, track five, dufourea, hits me with some lighter, ethereal washes of warm ambience that represent a shift in tone but fit perfectly into the flow of the album. Likewise, the eleventh track, scopesis, weaves in a palette of various synth melodies, glitches, and loops I’d call chaotic beauty.
Elixir is an excellent album, but one that will probably appeal most to seasoned ambient and drone listeners that appreciate subtle, well-crafted albums that fully reveal themselves over repeat listens. I found the album very rewarding and recommend it highly.
The album is available from Invisible Birds and Bandcamp.