Inner Travels






It is boon and bane, blessing and curse to appoint the New Age label to an artist’s work… any artist’s work even. Some artists carry this genre categorization with pride while others feel uncomfortable, but that’s the crux with each and every cataloging, and I haven’t even mentioned the dubious V-genre that materialized a few years ago and which many people see as a fad that vaporizes sooner rather than later. Blight the negativity, cue the scintillation, for Lake Geneva, Wisconsin-based synthesist Steve Targo is one of the good New Age musicians that sits right in-between its two varying traditions. His Inner Travels project is torn between two happy schools of thought, but as I tend to say, is not torn apart by them. There is on the one hand your grandmother’s interpretation of New Age artists who tend to worship whales in the ocean and Native Americans in the valley; on the other hand, however, there are New Age musicians that tend to worship dolphins in the sky and chessboard plateaus that would make Space Harrier proud. Inner Travels is a project that unites these biases. While Steve Targo’s currently abandoned – and hopefully soon-to-be resurrected – Riot Meadows project is a cornucopia of high energy synth washes, drizzling buzzes, fast-paced shapeshifting strings of rasping vignettes and turbulent decortications, Inner Travels is the more streamlined approach, fathoming the contemplative moment of Far Eastern and occasionally faux Eastern traditions. Seiche is a two-track tape that is few and far between these notions and motions. Released in October 2014 on the Chicago, Illinois-based Scenic Rhythms label in a limited edition of 20 tapes and available to purchase/stream at Bandcamp, the two tracks of 7+ minutes are not only mere appetizers, but timeless sparklers as suggested by the genre convention. Seiche (pronounced |sāSH|) describes temporary disturbances in a lake or puddle due to a change in atmospheric pressure. So how does the artist’s mellow Inner Travels moniker cope with such pressure?


Whether Steve Targo releases his soundscapes under the current moniker Inner Travels, visits the technicolor titration punctilio via his abandoned alias Riot Meadows or admixes soothing viridian veils with his partner in chime Hunter P. Thompson through their collaborative effort Mango Differential, rest assured that reality is always twisted, alloyed with polyhedric arabesques, viewed through a vitrectomy survivor’s shattered lenses. Seiche I is different in this regard, as it greets the listener with a good old-fashioned field recording of a thunderstorm. Unharmed. Non-processed. This might well be the biggest aesthetic surprise the Wisconsinite synthesist drops, quite literally so. While soulmate Phillip Wilkerson takes his time in his aquatic analogy Deliquesce (Twin Springs Tapes, 2014) to let the listener absorb the soaking wet diorama for several minutes on each track, Inner Travels’ pluvial peritoneum lasts less than a minute before his trademark synth pointillism enters the scenery. Refreshingly apocryphal, awash with retrojected afterglows, emanating pentatonic potassium profusions, Seiche I is glistening, its arpeggio floating. Emitting a marveling viscidity, cyber birds as well as real(istic) splashes of plasticizer puddles before the adjacent vignette spawns a hymnic flowerage of thermal synth streams and crystalline sine fluids, Steve Targo’s first incarnation of Seiche willfully obscures reality after all.


And so does Seiche II, even though it moves away from the intensely precise look onto the mucoid molecules. In lieu of an immediate ocular microscopic inspection, the second encounter allows the listening subject to gaze and sweep. Introduced by an oceanic vista of whitewashed pink noise blotches, pristine bells and triangle granulomas soon unfold, syringa helixes gyre around the aqueous amines, cautious low frequency melodies serve as a rhythmic undercurrent to the metronome-like ligneous clicks. Square syrinx patterns bleed their oneiric coruscation in-between the glaucous reticulation. Inner Travels unites the speckled physiognomy with sustained whistles and aerial drone longitudes, the latter of which are the main reason for perceiving this prismatic hydrazine from a bird’s eye perspective. The rhythmic array serves as an alternative focal point to the circumambience. While not exactly waltz-like, the pulsating serration evokes the perception of movement. Combined with the agglutinated longitudinal synth flow, a dualistic photometry is realized. Surfing on the water’s edge, breathing in the purified braiding of oxygenated currents, being aware of the state of benignancy and shelter-quality security that Targo injects into his sylvan pond, Seiche II is no contrapuntal paroxysm but an equipollent part to the interplay of fluid forces.


There is a timeless quality embroidered into the music of Inner Travels, and this should come as no surprise, as it is the driving factor of New Age music in general, whether it is antediluvian due to its look back to better times that shall rise again, or because of the similarly moss-covered but purposeful retrogression in terms of the chosen synths. Steve Targo is clearly oscillating toward the latter description, and proof to this point is his vivacious Riot Meadows material which is ablaze thanks to the iridescent flumes, bellicose frequencies and ever-changing zoetrope coppices. These mercurial soundscapes are rightfully overwhelming, synth sybaritism is reigning there. Inner Travels is different. Reflection is added to every tone, the synths are polished and pure… but also limited through their radiating beauty. Seiche is by no means wellness music for posh malls or tantra temples, but it comes admittedly closer to such denominations than the stereo-panned spaciness of Steve Targo’s pre–2014 projects. There are two things that annihilate and ostracize the connotative aberration of Inner Travels being a bog-standard New Age project though: the tone sequences on the one hand… coupled with the textures on the other hand. The synths may feel archaic and antiquated at times, but the Far Eastern mellifluousness in tandem with the alluvial tendrils of fibrillar drones, reverberated pulses and sun-dappled coils altogether augment each other, amplifying their medicinal properties. Seiche encapsulates an aqueous theme, but it also successfully unfurls the primary aestheticism of Inner Travels: gaseous plasticity.


Further reading and listening:


Ambient Review 393: Inner Travels – Seiche (2014). Originally published on Nov. 26, 2014 at