CHANNELERS “Essex” (Inner Islands)

Water. Water is the key, and water is what Sean Conrad, aka Channelers, aka label honcho at Inner Islands, aims to, er, immerse us in throughout his new ambient masterpiece Essex. I mean, look at that cover, for crying out loud! That’s a person wading into a lake or something. See those ripples emanating from the hazy figure disturbing the stillness of the surface? For all we know, they continue infinitely out of frame. Who cares if that would fly in the face of physical or thermodynamic laws – physics and thermodynamics don’t rule my imagination, that’s for sure! Nor do they have any purchase within the psychological framework of human consciousness. So I can drift in them for the rest of eternity, on an endless, unbroken liquid plane, and not even worry about how the universe works. I can just be.

There it is. Just be. Can you imagine tuning your own consciousness into the exquisite life force of the cosmos, or expanding your perception of that cosmos so that you realize its existence inside of you? That’s the whole Inner Islands aesthetic – expanding within, journeying to the isolated regions where you are filled only and permanently with peace and harmony. Traversing vast expanses of water. All in the name of true, uninterrupted rest.

And “Rest” is the track that opens Essex, all eleven minutes and eleven seconds of it. And because 11:11 is the magic number on all digital clocks, there’s a numerological element to it that gives it power. Probably. I’m going to listen to it at 11:11 today and see what happens. My guess – the song slows time just enough so that it can be played entirely within that single minute. But that’s just a guess. The track begins the tape perfectly, introducing the liquid theme with pastoral synthesizers, recalling Belgium’s Dolphins into the Future at times, and setting the stage for interior drift. The dual themes – water, introspection – continue with obvious nods: “Regenerations at the Night Pool,” the gorgeous acoustic guitar/synth concoction “Moved by Streams,” and the nostalgic “Longing to Swim in the Realm of My Childhood Dream” represent the former (well, both, I guess), and “Safe Space” and “Passing My Heart through the Place of Questions” the latter.

Undoubtedly Channelers, and Inner Islands in general, exists to provide escapist realms to us weary searchers, those who are disillusioned and fed up with the insanity of the world around us. And Channelers does that, but not at the expense of trying to make oneself a better person. Introspection comes with a responsibility to project that inner tranquility outward, to strive toward bringing that type of peace to everyone. Remember the old Salvation Army motto? Sharing is caring, people! Now, let’s all fucking make this world a better place.

--Ryan Masteller