Album review: "24 Days" by Etherine / Michael Weeks

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Etherine is the name of a musical project by Michael Weeks, and "24 Days" is the first album created under the project's "umbrella". The album was created as an experiment, the author wrote and recorded one song every day over a 24 days period. Despite the experimental character, it has cohesion and the inner "movement" of the album as you progress through the songs feels good and natural.

The name of the project could not have been chosen more properly - Etherine creates a music that's ethereal, pure and transparent. And there's something to it that puts it light years ahead of the typical, forced-ethereal, ambient or "new age" music.

The usual "new age" products are sort of bland, just streams of peaceful sounds that are beautiful at times, but lack real meaning. While Etherine produces something that has character, and the message is clear for anyone who's open to it. The atmosphere is strongly introspective, and it clearly carries the marks of a genuine introspection - there's _someone_ behind that music, you can feel a soul's stirrings and ups and downs.

But perhaps the album's biggest value resides in the "altitude" of the states of mind that are behind it. While some songs are a bit melancholic, and a very few are turned towards more earthly feelings, the pinnacles of the album are very, very high above. "Bliss" is the word that spontaneously comes to mind when trying to get into the proper mood to receive those awesome songs.

"I remembered", the 2nd song, has indeed a bit of nostalgia, as if an old sweet memory emerged to the frontispiece of the mind. Nostalgic, but wrapped in a gentle, tender and happy light. The atmosphere is quite similar to that of the 4th song, "If this is over".

"Bring it down", song number 5, stands out - there's a sober, almost severe vibration to it that aspires upward. Bring down... what? Perhaps the light above, reach for it and bring it here, down, on earth. The song is open to different interpretations, especially given its more dynamic feel that's a bit different from the rest of the album. It is quite similar to the next song, "Burn down the pleasure", although the latter is perhaps even more severe and tense.

Song number 8, "Singing for the day", is a pure expression of joy, it's the happy soul that smiles at the fresh morning. There's something playful about it, and yet it manages to keep a note of majesty.

"Everpresent" (number 17) has a title that says it all. It creates an impression of "it is accomplished", there's a static yet luminous vast expanse that's filtered into the music. The more dynamic parts of the music (the rhythm) somehow manage to stay out and not "contaminate" the peaceful balance of the main theme, although they do add a bit of spice.

"Catch the sky" (number 19) struck me as quite an accomplishment. As opposed to "Everpresent", the dynamic and the static parts are thoroughly melt together and the result... it is like a fresh force that's rising towards the blue above - young, confident, full of the energy neverending of a new creation. And it has such a wide smile on its face, and it enjoys the world tremendously! There's joy to it, and love, and youthfulness, and a total, adamant, unfaltering trust in the bright and evermore growing futures that just wait to be harvested. I love this song so much, it's the one closest to my heart (about the one that my mind likes, keep on reading).

There are quite a few dynamic songs. Such is number 14, "What if it happened somewhere else" - it has something of a thriller, with oriental-sounding accompaniment and rolling percussion. Much in the same vein is number 16, "The place where my words faltered", number 18, "We never learned", and number 21 (the ending piece), "The face of destiny".

But the summit of the album, the song around which everything else revolves, is number 9: "Clocks apart". The entire album is "up there", but this song is in a space of its own. It catches something of the vastness of the cosmic rhythms, broad spectra of energy punctuating the great movements of the universe. There's a majesty and simply a largeness of the sounds that pour out in massive cascades, powerful yet harmonic, heavy yet luminous, huge yet delicate.

In a message sent to a mailing list a while ago, i said about this song:

"There's definitely something special about the feeling captured by that song. A lot of the electronica stuff kinda struggles to feel outworldish and strange, and some actually do a fair job out of it. While that song... i don't know... it just feels "up there", strange and beautiful and glowing in its own light. And somehow... full and alive. Like a new and different state of mind. And it's all natural, no struggle at all."

There's probably nothing more to say about this album. Michael Weeks is a special voice in the world of the electronic music. No doubt he has a lot more to say, and i'm anxiously waiting for other albums in the same spirit.