The album Spirit Dwelling by Geoffrey Armes is the latest in a series that were created in his home studio. A sense of spirituality is what binds the series, something that is apparent in this album subtitled Music for Yoga. Ethnic instruments such as udus, talking drums, and rainsticks combine with treated guitars to create dreamy and lonesome musical vistas and inner feelings. Despite the ethnic instruments a lot of the album feels distinctly American, it’s as though we’ve heard the music on a meandering film that is set in the midwest.
Most of the album contains a lot of acoustic instrumentation, but it’s also orchestrated against drones and pads on some tracks. The first (and longest) track "Sun and Cloud" is the loveliest, and a great intro to the album. A slowly throbbing drone leads the way before crisp and twinkling strands of guitar come in, at first sparingly but then building up to a rhythmic and melodic passage where hand drums keep the pace. A sense of warmhearted celebration and longing characterise this charming piece.
At some points the laid back yet engaging guitar plucking made me imagine a lone guitarist sitting on a porch overlooking a rural scene somewhere in America’s heartland. Then on another track one can be transported to a tropical rainforest thanks to the rainsticks. Occasionally singing is used at just the right time. On "Soul Version" bass guitar (I think), rainsticks, and clacking stick sounds bridge into an aching emotional and yearning passage with earnest lyrics and heartfelt guitar refrains.
I’m still in two minds about what to make of Spirit Dwelling. The soundscapes are intriguing and aurally quite appealing - especially the first half of the album. I enjoyed it but somehow I didn’t find it as compelling as I should have, given how well it’s done. Still, I find it difficult not to recommend because it has an indefinable appeal.
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