MAYSUN blends piano, synths, and drums in a wordless narrative that encapsulates emotional discovery, patience, and moments of suspense.
It’s hard to believe all thirty-eight minutes of MAYSUN’s album Timelines were composed, recorded, and mixed within eight days of a Banff Centre residency, but stranger things have happened. Although instrumental, there’s a strong sense of personal presence communicated through field recordings and “in the room” samples, capturing the phenomenon of affecting a room, creating ambience just by being there.
Creating a truly ambient album, MAYSUN uses intensity and pacing in the absence of lyrics to tell his story. Timelines is exploratory in the wait-and-see (or, in this case, wait-and-listen) kind of way, taking its time meandering through the tracklist. It’s spooky with a touch of menace, playing with suspense reminiscent of that moment in a thriller score when the protagonist is about to do something that’s obviously against their best interest. Wrapped up in all those haunting piano trills is a calm and quiet beauty to take the edge off.
The instrumental skeleton of piano, modular synths, and drums come to life through techniques like re-amping — the process of feeding a recording of an instrument back through an amp and capturing the resulting tone, which happens to include a lot of room sound. The finished sound ends up as an amalgamation of instruments being played and the physical space they were played in, which is a distinguishing characteristic of ambient music from other genres that tend to use more isolated sound recording techniques. I imagine the production process was as much a practice in spatial awareness as listening is.
Listening to MAYSUN’s album Timelines has been a welcome reminder to be still, to sit in a moment, be patient, and observe. It’s immersive and wandering like the best soundtracks, taking the listener on a wordless journey of emotional discovery.