SOFTEST “Six Wishes” (Inner Islands)

Softest is a recording moniker of Braeyden J. McKenna, and you should know who he is if you’re reading this page or any other page devoted to tape releases or spectral guitar ambience. He’s a co-founder of Inner Islands, the label on which this tape is released. Inner Islands has been covered here many times. Look it up. The label is also a repository for this kind of music, devoted as it is to contemplative and meditative thought through sound. Hence its name, which is a nod to personal examination and subconscious connection, where peace and harmony wash over the listener, leaving them to their solitude on their own, ahem, inner island. Of course.

McKenna is like a guru within this idiom. Here, as softest (lowercase, of course, except when starting a sentence – see above – as all good English grads understand), he provides the titular six wishes, longings, hopes, laid out in musical form and stretched to magnificently peaceful lengths and, if we’re getting all 3D within our own heads, breadths and depths. Each “wish” is a cascade of gorgeous guitar, synthesizer, and field recording, processed to specific frequencies for maximum astral projection. Wanna think of McKenna as your spirit guide here? Go ahead.

As with McKenna’s other works, his output as softest is intended for purposeful reflection, and headphones are recommended. This is exactly the kind of album you need to put the madness of the world to the side. It is a needed respite from the echo chamber of dissention and cruelty pinging off the walls of our foreground and feeding back until it becomes an unmanageable mental burden. It’s spiritual release.

--Ryan Masteller