(val)Liam, Liam Skogland from Canada, is out with his first physical album release on Celestial Dragon. Having previously released 2 tracks on the Intermittent Memories, which for me were both standouts on that compilation, I was very excited when I heard of this release. I was hoping that Celestial Dragon were releasing something to rival last year’s Distant System album. And while this is very different in style and atmosphere, it really is on par quality-wise. From start to finish this album uses lush sounds that are light, melodic and bubbly. The whole album has a fresh late spring or early summer feel, and I think I will be playing it a lot this summer. Daydreamer fills me with an expectation that the summer is going to be a great one and makes me glad that I have decided to move out of the city and near the beach.
I really like how (val)Liam has used a lot of acoustic sounds and blended them with some old school Goa Ambient atmospheres. The piano, guitar and bass add some really nice natural flavours, but for me it is the clean tribal beats that sound like they are being played with hollowed out tubes of bamboo banging against each other that really make this magical. The sound of the entire album is incredibly clean and although it is unmistakably electronic the atmosphere created is very natural and acoustic. Gaia (T1) is a perfect example of this as I can feel the wind through my hair, the birds in the trees and the water lapping at my feet although none of these sounds are actually used.
The first 3 tracks are quite beat orientated sounding like fresh old school Goa, similar to some of the ambient CDs on the Global Psychedelic Trance series. The next 6 are much more ambient with very few beats if any and feel very chilled out. Earth (T4), Somewhere Not Here (T5) & Lotus Dancing (T6) sound like they could be on Ishq’s album Orchid with pristine sounds, trippy atmospheres and a touch of the ethereal. Although I make this comparison I never get the feeling that (val)Liam is copying Ishq as these tracks have a flavour all of their own. The Mystic (T7) feels like it could be on The Mystery of the Yeti with some very Himalayan sounds. It is the only track that starts cold but it gets warmer as it progresses, as if we are coming down a mountain from the area of permanent snow to a rain forest at the base. The next two tracks are blissful tracks made for relaxing and forgetting about busy stressful lives. The final track, Daydreamer, sees a return to beat orientated psychill from the opening trio and with its nice beach party atmosphere it seems perfectly placed to make me want to start the album again, which I have done time and time again.