Ambient LA artist conveys a much-needed meditative experience
Electronic artists are frequently faced with wrath from disbelievers of their genre, as they argue a common fallacy: that in order for music to be “respected” or considered “real,” natural instruments must be involved in the process. The derivation of this argument is understandable, with one being nostalgic to the traditional ways of music. However, in today’s age, with music technologies constantly advancing, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Singer-songwriter Emily A. Sprague is the perfect example of an artist who does so. Raised in the Catskill Mountains, she has an appreciation for natural sounds in her music and is perfectly capable of playing several instruments, yet still prefers to use the modular synth to revolutionize her sound. Her latest project Hill, Flower, Fog reflects her various skills with the synthesizer as she reveals to people six incredibly soothing, extended tracks of modular meditation.
When Sprague isn’t creating with Florist, her indie-folk trio, she is experimenting with a newfound level of intimacy, making music solo. In an interview with The Creative Independent, she explains that her love for the modular synth evolved from its lack of structure combined with the ability to create a solo orchestra. When creating solo work, she is able to step away from the structure of her band to further explore her creative philosophies in music, describing it as “existing without any sort of structural guidelines.”
Since 2017, Sprague has released four solo projects (two being EPs), including her latest release Hill, Flower, Fog on Bandcamp. The record, however, expanded to digital and is now available for vinyl release through RVNG Intl. Along with that, a portion of the album proceeds will go to the Lion’s Tooth Project–a charity initiative focusing on the wellness of LGBTQIA+, immigrant and minority communities, promoting personal well-being through art and earth-based practices.
Hill, Flower, Fog is especially distinct and monumental as it was completed in a one-week span, inspired primarily by the start of the pandemic. As Sprague is known for evoking emotion through her sound, the isolation provided her with an entirely new concept to explore. When speaking about the album, she explains, “I want to share these explorations because in my own experience of fear and strangeness, making distant, encouraging and astral sounds brought me some light through the leaves. It is meant as a soundtrack to these new days, practices, distances, losses, ends and beginnings. I hope it helps calm find a way.”
This album epitomizes calmness, so much so that when listening to Sprague’s highly meditative tracks, people may just find themselves in an entirely new state of mind. The opening track “Moon View” sets this tone of tranquility, as it highlights a light melodic mix of soothing, windchime-like and drawn-out flutey instrumentals, making it the perfect track for the start to a morning.
The following track “Horizon” is a great fit for the next listen, as it provides a more uplifting experience, highlighting the simplicity of using major and minor keys with a xylophone-sounding melody. With each track remaining idiosyncratic from the others, “Mirror,” “Woven” and “Rain” continue to reflect the meditative experience as we get hypnotized by the overlapping sounds of symbols, bells and chimes. The closing song “Star Gazing” is probably the most electro-sounding, with its spurts of buzzes and beeps, but it still remains highly naturalistic as people listen to the synthetic, subdued sounds of nature.
Overall, Hill, Flower, Fog represents a beautiful work of art and provides beneficial wellness to listeners as it brings forward a restorative state of mind through the practice of music meditation. As Sprague explains, “Hill, Flower, Fog is a place and a poem.” The album represents themes of family, sustainability, patience and growth and is a message Sprague brought to the community in hopes of shining a bright light.