How to pronounce an album that is named ? Is this one of those crazy Vaporwave capsules that are so cleverly named, but incredibly hard to pronounce for speech software and humans alike? Actually not, and the artist Bubble aka John from Toronto is keen on explaining the thrill behind this twelve-track New Age LP. Self-released in February 2014 at Bandcamp where it can be purchased and fully streamed, the album is about a block. It’s no simple block though! is pronounced P’u and refers to the Taoist concept of the Uncarved Block which is built to overcome the necessity of differences, showcasing perception without prejudice, housing blissful sameness. It is a New Age album that is not harmed by its ambiguity or even polysemy, but rather welcomes, nurtures and worships this twilight state known as dichotomy. Naturally, this is not what Bubble has in mind. He goes one step farther and wants to annihilate the distinctions of diametrically opposite pairs, concepts and schools of thought with this bold Taoist P’u block transmuted into aural rivers. The concept is highly philosophical, and granted, New Age albums tend to come very close to these self-imposed levels of abstraction, but it is also true that Bubble cannot truly explicate the concept by means of this album, let alone by the genre in particular (or even music in general). But what he creates here is polylayered and intriguing enough to deserve an in-depth review at AmbientExotica: “the consciousness of light presented by sound” is John’s promise and premise. I will distill the oozing liquid out of the uncarved block known as .


The opener Borealis Star Feed does not contain the archetypical Bubble depth of field as of yet, for it is a surprisingly progressive piece in its given runtime of three and a half minutes. Launching with darkly droning pianos, venturing to equally rectilineal pylons supercharged with buzzing electric current until the rhythmic undulation of chirring crickets faces pristinely glacial star dust legato washes that live up to the track title, Borealis Star Feed is a dun-colored affair, less New Age-like than torn by a diaphanous efflorescence. The following Right, however, sees the luminosity improved as Bubble injects tasteful doses of antediluvian synth choir billows, marimba-oid pings and blebs as well as tramontane faux-violin hills alloyed in thermal heat. The synchronism of warmhearted elastics and pointillistic fractals unfolds without any surprise, but the complete arrangement sports a heavenly body that is quite literally starstruck.


Whereas Dharma augments the heat via stokehold sinews, gamelan figments and whitewashed tape hiss that serves as a heat-interpolating moiré for a refreshingly withdrawn piece, Blue Or Grey transforms the earthen rhizomes of Dharma and ventures into space yet again, worshipping the interstitial nothingness as frequently as the cherubic strings and spacy color palette do, ominous portent in-between the tone sequences included. April 13th, 1992 then presents a particular (or peculiar?) synergy between an alienated circular saw romance and hibernal rivulets aglow with cyan diffractions, with the adjacent Mantis enchanting qua its granular haze, distant field recordings and saltatory polka dots of crushed ice in tandem with dynamic wind gusts. Blurred tranquility and piercing scintillae gyre peacefully in this high-plasticity placidity.


The shortest piece of the album is called Bleauxx; running less than two and a half minutes, its incandescent lachrymosity serves as the counterpart to the contemplation that was heretofore interwoven. Sepia-toned, euphonious and created via grainy beams of light that seem to blaze from afar, Bleauxx feels like a vestibule to a nostalgic incident in lieu of a New Age artifact. The influx Rice Paddy, meanwhile, turns out to be the epitome of New Age: bonfire-compatible acoustic guitars enshrined in surreal airflows harboring angelic fragments, this is one of those feel-good pieces whose sylvan tendrils put it down to earth, yet evoke spectral specimen via the use of swirling synths. Flipper Lips is the pointillistic piece of the album, a statement which can be immediately falsified by carving out the droning strings, true enough, but the rain drops, their synthetic foils and the almost uncannily eerie howling coupled with frosty piano prongs make this vesiculating arrangement another prime example of New Age music, this time of the magnanimously mystified kind.


Alpha Herculis comes and surprises with deep bass bursts, equally low-frequency didgeridoo eruptions and a parallax layer of synth choirs and pulsating bleeps that remains unperturbed by their vigor. The soft haze that covers every sound is once more a boon that curiously enough adds more depth to the scenery than a hyper-polished cleanup ever could. The penultimate Sunshine And Squirrels is one of the few self-explanatory and strangely cute track titles, one which adamant New Age aficionados could denote as a moment where jumps the shark while being all too mundane and worldly in its asceticism, but the chirping birds and riverbeds of succulent honey that float through this piece are otherworldly enough to rectify the perception, and so does the pinpointable location of the final Turkey Springs, NY with its fire crackles, nocturnal ambience and fluidic lignification.


is a classical New Age album regardless of where the listener is looking at: the crystalline front artwork, the Taoist concept of overcoming the necessity of dichotomy at best and duality at worst, the track titles with their nebulous vividness and sudden earthbound commodities, or last but not least the designedly antediluvian synth choir as enmeshed with coruscating cosmic particles and vulturine field recordings. aka P’u is a glorious mess in this regard, but once every concept, endeavor or formula is put behind and the bystander is simply listening, a wondrous kind of enshrinement ensues, as Bubble has ameliorated this moss-covered sybaritism with many a clever coating or stratum to behold, be it tape hiss-like epitheliums that divide the listener from being truly surrounded by the sanguine sanctuary, or the potentially abrasive yet adamantly silkened buzzing power of prolonged electricity layers, there are many post-millennial ingredients interwoven, heck, even the cautious frilliness of Glitch becomes apparent in the winter-related tracks. New Age fans who prefer the space-oriented, occasionally earthen approach of the 70’s and those who do not want to be entangled in a net of cyber-inspired Rave-infested Minecraft-oriented Vaporwave virtues ought to knock on wood and check out .


Further listening and reading:

  • The album can be purchased and fully streamed at Bandcamp
  • Bubble is on Twitter: @9bubble.


Ambient Review 331: Bubble –  (2014). Originally published on Apr. 9, 2014 at AmbientExotica.com.