Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

thom brennan soundworks: Press

E/I Magazine

The Finest Drops: a RainGarden overview

Beneath Clouds (1996)
Brennan’s second release floats effortlessly out of the stereofield. Part one is a shimmering pitter of bells juxtaposed against whirs of brushed metal. What is most intoxicating is the buoyant drone that hovers above the subtle rhythmic layers. Part two quickly emerges from a white-cotton of sky; layers of synth billow along the earth, sounds quickly gathering around like groundfog. Then you are slowly transported up again to the heavens. Brennan’s aural strategies are thusly established; one can really experience the marrow of his music, a language of mysticism that permeates out of the cloud chamber that is his studio.

Shimmer (2001)
Pure epochal texture. Though only three minutes long, the opener “Radiant Ice” is a work of brilliant chord placements, uplifting clusters of ambient warmth that create one diaphanous whole. There is a tribal sense throughout, albeit a slowly sprawling one. On “Tundra,” Brennan seems to be saluting the beat of the primitives: throbbing reverberations combine with more bell-like sounds to suggest great expanses of ice, harsh winds, and the rugged fauna of the prehistoric. Loaded with all sorts of prismatic colors, this is an absorbing, if solipsistic, work that trades the familiarity of self with the unpredictability of place.

Satori (2002)
One single seventy-plus minute track, this gracefully arcing dirge might be Brennan’s most deeply personal work. Loneliness and melancholy pervade the air, married to something like grand, oceanic movement. Supple waves of sound ebb across vast distances, their touch upon landfall hesitant, intimate, sacred even. Repeated listens reveals a more dreamy countenance, the great ocean engulfed in nightfall. Minimal, “barely there,” this recording occupies a distinct place in the Brennan catalog. Some may prefer his more “formalized” ambience, but the stark neo-realism of this free-falling work, a compelling portrait of landscape airbrushed with a deft touch, remains a compelling experience.

Silver (2005)
Recent Brennan isn’t far off the established mark, but a whiff of unease permeates the ambient wisp. As if to transmute the turbulence of the material world, he’s chosen to introduce the pulses of voice and glossy rhythmic loops into the mix. For Brennan, this is nearly an act of aggression. Rather than the intended winter homage, he’s instead channeled early spring, the sounds herein cracking the permafrost as the new sun rips out flowing paths of cruising liquid. Naturally, the drone still reigns supreme, frayed edges notwithstanding. Interesting to see if this record augurs in further undiscovered hues.

Ben Fleury- Steiner - E/I Magazine (Feb 5, 2006)