It’s rare that music has the ability to feel deep, nostalgic, meaningful and even spiritual without it sounding pretentious, contrived and overly grandiose. There are a couple of artists that come to mind who I, and many people think, pull it off brilliantly. Bands like Sigur Rós, Max Richter, Stars Of The Lid and Tim Hecker have that all-important X-factor that makes their music sound as pure as water from a spring. After listening to Ecliptic by Qualia I wouldn’t hesitate to put him in that category as well.
Hailing from Cambridge, UK Qualia is the solo ambient/post-rock project for Dan Leader. He was experimenting with ideas since 2010 and has released numerous albums and EP’s. One of his most recent is Ecliptic, which contains eight songs that put in you a space that only refined well-made ambient music can. One of the biggest strengths about this album is that Leader doesn't settle on just warm, ethereal sounds that make you feel as if you are resting upon a cloud in heaven. Leader plays with sounds and evokes emotions you don’t always get when listening to music. I felt relief, tension, triumph, adversity and hope as I listened to Ecliptic.
The album opens with “Theory Of Tides,” which starts off with a primordial hum of sound that is backed by a piano. It slowly grows layers of guitar and white noise and instills a sense of tranquility. “Horizons” is a melancholy piece that revolves around reverb-laced guitars and piano while “Horology” feels distant yet hypnotic.
The centerpiece and highlight of the album is the fifteen-minute epic “Ephemera.” Leader really starts to flex his imaginative muscles here and deviates from the sound he establishes on the first three songs. The way the song evolves and devolves is masterful and takes you into very atmospheric territory while still feeling emotionally engaging. One of the most satisfying moments is the transition that slowly happens around the nine-minute mark. The song goes from a hazy almost ominous concoction of noise to slightly hopeful. Once the piano enters it could be described as triumphant.
Do you really need any more convincing at this point that Ecliptic is something you should be listening to? If you are a human being with even a sliver of emotion than Ecliptic will speak to you on some level.
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