Low Entropy Island
July EP






July EP is the first lengthier release by Low Entropy Island aka Ryan Robinson from Portland, Oregon after a few prestidigitational deliveries of scattered songs. The three-track EP is self-released and available to purchase and listen to in full at Bandcamp. Not much is known about the artist at the time of writing this review, the only information Robinson gives regarding his moniker is the following: “A living organism is an island of low entropy in an increasingly random and chaotic universe.” Be that as it may, his aesthetics and sound structures can undoubtedly be carved out well on this EP, notwithstanding the lack of official press sheets and biographical information. No problem for me, it lets the music shimmer all the more vivaciously. And indeed, each of the artist’s three tracks is enormously open and transparent, neither eclectic nor labyrinthine. Robinson relies on short loops and does not hide this fact. These repetitive patterns then try to lure the listener and drape him or her in a particularly mirthful and friendly sanctuary of bliss. Once a structure or loop is built, it is meant to stay. Each sign of progression is annihilated, but the synth surfaces and delicate reverberations make up for this. The tracks are nonetheless pristine and clear despite these aftereffects. A study in amicable simplicity concerning melodies, the textures themselves glimmer and gleam much more. I am so drawn into the mellow maelstrom of July EP that I decided to write an in-depth review about it. 


Drift is the gateway to the erbaceous meadows which are awash with light that is spent by the summer sun of July. What sounds like a turgid testimony on your reading device is a quick, if admittedly fustian depiction of the acroamatic acreage that is about to unfold. Ryan Robinson opens Drift with a fade-in sequence of cavalcades of crystalline chimes, glitzy pulses and iridescent coils which are held together by a bond of synth afterglows and a four-note motif on the classic piano. The interim result is a joyously piercing, enormously fresh segment of patterns whose cathartic cleanliness wafts around a New Age nucleus whose helixes are based on electro-acoustic allusions and Glitch scintillae. If these dazzling particles were not included, the purified aura of rapture and summer-fueled loftiness would not be the same, for the melancholy of that four-note theme had been stressed otherwise. But now, in this very state, the coruscating complexion augments the liveliness and sparkling effervescence of the genteel-majestic core. One particular texture sounds curiously moss-grown and angelic, namely the faux-finish of the piano. It seems to be distilled from a 70’s Ambient album of the New Age kind and functions as a – probably unintended – counterpart to the ameliorated alloy of bleeps and sparks. Drift is nevertheless a delightful gem whose outermost periphery is surrounded by multitudinous chimes and whistles. The virtual boundaries feel therefore aeriform, infinitesimally ecclesiastic but always positively lightweight. The aesthetics of the front artwork are flawlessly transformed into music.


The centrical piece is called Surfaces (Aquatic) and stresses its latter part with wondrously cyan-tinted marimba droplets that oscillate between the physiognomy of goblet drums and Caribbean steel pans. Being neither of them, the vesicles still feel like an intertwinement of these instruments’ characteristic traits. There is an earthbound soil whose rhizomes hold the pointillistic bubbles together. Full of retrogressive warmth despite its emaciated endurance, the wave-like undulation of two-note ebbs and flows astutely resembles the structure of soft drones. On this piece it becomes especially clear that Low Entropy Island wants to keep the status quo and prolong its time-related confines to a perpetual consistency. The listening subject is encapsulated in a timeless location: right from the get-go, all ingredients are on board, the arrangement does neither develop nor atrophy anymore. Once its sun-dried underwood meets the turquoise tramontane tunnels, this state is fixed and keeps running ad infinitum until the symphony of the patterns eventually comes to a halt after almost eight minutes. Draped in nostalgia and thermal heat, Surfaces (Aquatic) feels gaseous, profound and sylphlike.  


The third and final artifact of the July EP is called Near Space and seemingly connects the characteristics and attributes of the previous two Ambient mélanges. A two-tone cloud of echoey crystal bells with a long reverb phase towers above a fluxion of electric current, a droning riverbed that spawns deeply buzzing sounds, but also comprises of an oscillating fabric that quavers and jitters ever so slightly. This almost organic trepidation luckily decreases the brazen-austere stokehold atmosphere. That part resembles the warm streams of Surfaces (Aquatic), whereas the translucent music box-evoking flecks return to the marveling innocence of the opener Drift. The tendency of creating an ordered state is also noticeable here. The allure of the final tune arises from the loop-based appearance, and as I keep saying time and again, once an Ambient musician decides to base a certain track on forthrightly looped structures, these be better enchanting, mesmerizing or languorous in order to bewitch the listener. This happens in the finale which even expands the child-like wonder and yesteryear’s phantasmagoria. Like a pristine mirage, Near Space builds an insouciant aurora via its interstitial sustain phases and the accessible, overt existence. Not that Ryan Robinson’s music would be gimmicky, but here the lack of any ornament or adornment adamantly amplifies the purity and vitreous candidness.


July EP is Ryan Robinson’s first cautious step out into the conceptual work of music, and if this is not the case and the artist is indeed a veteran, it at least feels like a genteel outlook due to its refreshing honesty and nostalgia layering techniques. The Portland-based producer even belittles his own efforts via the clear cut loop-based structures, but this assertion would be the wrongest conclusion to draw! I am of the opinion that these three tracks grow even stronger due to their carefully set up texture syntheses. The happiness – and I include contentment in this overarching term as well – is almost audacious, all of the three polished tracks gleam without ever feeling clinically sterile or evoking the architectural aesthetics of concrete jungles. Delight and joy are ubiquitous in the underbrush of Low Entropy Island’s July EP, but there is more to take away from its setting, for this EP feels more like a kaleidoscope, and this is an especially curious remark to make, so let me explain: its kaleidoscopic effect does not unfold due to an abundance of layers or twinkling elements, but because of the opposite circumvention, namely an utter focus, streamlined craftsmanship and designed elementariness. The opener Drift is the dazzling showstopper here, but the other two tracks draw from the same characteristics and complexion, so you cannot go wrong. I am looking forward to the humble follow-up of this EP, Ryan Robinson sure got me lured.



Further listening:

You can purchase and listen to July EP in full at Bandcamp.



Ambient Review 242: Low Entropy Island – July EP (2013). Originally published on Jul. 24, 2013 at AmbientExotica.com.