For those of you that don't recognize the name, Kevin Hufnagel is actually a fairly prolific musician, playing in technical and progressive metal bands like Dysrythmia and Gorguts. And, funnily enough, that's exactly what his 2011 solo album Transparencies is not. Instead, Hufnagel delves into ambient music, with great success.
His ambient creations on this album have that powerful cathartic effect of post-rock without any of the large instrumentation to it, though the requisite thickness is still achieved by guitar alone. The pieces are all very emotionally moving; no joke, just listening to this album can bring me to tears at times. The sheer beauty of his work here is admirable, especially for someone who has primarily written metal until this point.
The opening track “Sunshower” is one of the strongest pieces on the album, even though it's also one of the shortest. There's just something about the brightness of it in comparison to the somewhat more melancholy rest of the album that makes it so very satisfying. The cosmic “Passing On”, also one of the shortest tracks, creates this eerie sense of floating through space on your own, with only the gradual builds to bring some indication of what's going on outside your body. “Early Light” sounds like drifting through the middle of an ocean while the sun rises in the distance, waves gently lapping at your sides.
The pieces where Hufnagel turns down the distortion and lets the guitar play more clearly are also on the stronger end. The repetitive strumming of songs like “Static Aquarium” and “Slow Motion Return” is hypnotic, lulling you into a restful state of musical contemplation that sounds about as close to Nirvana as you can get on Earth.
Though they do have a bit more development and experimentation, some of the longer tracks like “Ever Rest” and “Arferno” can be a bit drawn out in comparison to the rest of the selections on the album, making them a bit tedious at times. Nonetheless, they still manage to be emotionally sweet pieces, and any weaknesses they may have are far outweighed by their strengths.
This is an absolutely fantastic ambient album, and heavily recommended to any fans of ambient music or anyone seeking an enjoyable, easy listen in general. I guarantee this album will appeal to anyone and everyone, so please do give it a listen.
9.0 / 10
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