Album Review: Lost Links by Max Corbacho

Lost Links (Relaxed Machinery 0018) is a new collection of “lost pieces” from ambient-electronic wizard Max Corbacho, created during 2003-09 for other albums, but left out “for various reasons”. Fortunately, Max saved them for another day.

Created with synths, sequencers and atmospheres, the seven pieces on Lost Links, running 67 minutes in total, cover Max’s typically vast sonic range while sharing – given the circumstances – surprisingly common ground. All of the music has Max’s trademark sublimity, luminosity and depth.

You may find it difficult at first to choose favorites, as I did. They may emerge later. I admit to being partial to longer pieces, and there are three gems here, in the 12-16 minute range. The longest, the beautifully meditative One True Light, flows by effortlessly in no time, with wildly-bouncing glassy/reedy melodic sequences (like particles in the light) and brightly-lit pads. It’s followed by Mandala, thick with texture and color, rich tendrils of each chord spiraling out from the center, dazzling in its veiled effulgence.

The other long track, Slow Thunder, closes the album with 13 minutes of rich bass and ghostly chords, building and foreboding, all breathing like a big weather system. The piece is leisurely and perfectly paced, resisting any urge to hurry, its dramatic intensity quietly building – the feeling reminding me of Steve Roach’s wonderful Dynamic Stillness album, to which I was irresistibly drawn immediately afterwards.

Lost Links (medley excerpt) by Max Corbacho

The album opens very strongly with Earthflow Trance, a mystic, deep-earth illumination. This piece placed me in a cave cathedral, its blazing, eerie pitch-bent chords, thrilling and tantalizing dissonances, and roaring didgeridoo-like bass adding up to an irresistible mixture of searing etherea and deep earthcore. The glassy organ-like sheen of After Dream, with tones racing off into space, swells and contracts like a cosmic harmonium.

Sky Resonance and Third Exposure share a common mood of deep serenity, in contrasting modes: the former a darkish light, with the thrilling feel of discovery. An uplifting progression leaves us floating and soaring, feeling joy and wonder in encountering the unknown. This is the most common feeling I have in listening to Max’s music. The latter piece, with its night-like sounds, follows the bliss of a fine sunset and comforting twilight.

CD Cover" Lost Links by Max CorbachoAs is usual for Max’s albums, the artwork simply must be mentioned here. Max created the cover image himself with Apophysis software. It is vast, brilliant, gorgeously designed and sublimely beautiful. Steve Brand, Relaxed Machinery’s resident album designer, handles the package layout with his usual deft hand.

Lost Links is a perfect introduction to Max Corbacho’s music. If Max’s music is new to you, when you hear the quality of these pieces – leftovers from Max’s other albums – you will find it hard to resist discovering how great those albums are. That is an ongoing, joyful process: in my view, Max is one of our top-ranked ambient-electronic artists. His music is, quite simply, unforgettable, essential listening.

Lost Links is another strong release from the rapidly-growing Relaxed Machinery label. It’s available by download (MP3 from CD Baby and lossless FLAC from AD21 Music) and on CDR from Hypnos. Highly recommended!


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