A breath of fresh air
British Columbian artist Jamison Isaak (better known as Teen Daze) is back with Breathing Tides, an EP follow-up to last year’s Reality Refresh series. Isaak seems to have been listening to a good amount of Brian Eno since that series, as this new project of his is more ambient and sparing than ever before. The first two tracks of the EP are brief yet impactful, playing a significant role in settling the brain into a world of swaddling ambiences and comfortable sonic textures. The final track, while not quite as powerful, sets the listener free to go forth and explore the world and all its quiet beauty.
“Glacial Lake” is built on faint whistles, delicate synths and sparse but impactful keys (the primary source of melody outside the drones). The touch of the keys is so well-recorded and deliberate that people can almost picture someone tenderly pressing each one at the seat of a grand piano, ensconced in a sunlit meadow. The track is gorgeous; it’s hard to imagine a better ease-in intro to an ambient EP like this one. As it slowly fades away to make room for the next track, “Glacial Lake” almost feels like an apparition—just too light and too beautiful for this world.
“The Frequency Of The Universe” plays with similar tones as the first track, and might initially sound a bit too similar for some listeners. It remains in the same hypnotic state, leaning into the connection to nature. The ebb and flow of the background ambiances invoke images of leafy trees, slowly rustling back and forth, always in tune with the wind’s direction. It’s as if people are revisiting that sunlit meadow from the first track, but this time, with a different outlook. The rose-tinted glasses are gone—it’s time for honest introspection. Isaak achieves just that on this track through more cloudy synths and small injections of melody at just the right moment.
The EP closes out with the title track, a seven-minute whole-hearted commitment to the style that Teen Daze has been developing up to this point on the record. At points, it can feel a bit redundant (the most uneventful moments on this track sound borderline indistinguishable from the most eventful moments on the other two tracks), but “Breathing Tides” is saved by its dedication to the ambient. The previous two tracks prime the listener for this one, where while there might not a ton of new stuff going on, there is certain still plenty in which one can become swept away emotionally.
It’s easy to get lost in Breathing Tides. Like any great work of ambient music, it works not only as something to be closely read and analyzed like any other work of art, but it can also function as the background soundtrack to any number of other activities. This EP feels like it was meant for deep and personal contemplation, perhaps even meditation. Treat the cover of this project like advice—find a gorgeous outlook between the trees, and just enjoy the ambiance.