Meandering Without Boundaries
Maureen Boyle is better known as The Seven Fields of Alphelion, and best known for her inspired synths and keyboards in the band Black Moth Super Rainbow. That band has a reputation for their characteristically psychedelic analogue stylings. While their frontman Tobacco took his solo act the way of hip-hop, Boyle exploits her niche as a deft pianist to explore uncharted land for the group with ambient soundscapes on her debut solo release Periphery.
We are introduced to Periphery through a whimsical drone that leads into an uplifting piano number, “Slow Subtraction.” The low-energy, ambient instrumental themes continue across the album and are sprinkled lightly with colorful synth and piano play. Some of the tracks, like “Cloud Forest (The Little Owl),” show us some dissonance through jazzy droning noises and unexpected bleepy patterns, while “Saturation: Arrhythmia” take the dissonic dial tones to a level of pure annoyance. Lucid keys of a lower pitch than most of the album wrap things up slowly on “Starlight Aquatic”.
All music has a time and place of its own. For Periphery, that time and place is going to be something you put on to help you fall asleep. Though there is some very clever piano work on this album, like on “Lake Feet”, it’s wrapped tightly between layers of analogue irritation. Though anything but minimalist, Periphery primarily relies on downtempo synths to produce an almost jazz-quality ambience. However, the complete lack of a climax or crescendo throughout may leave listeners unsatisfied.