Album Review: Worlds, Afterworlds by Zero Ohms

Album cover: Worlds, Afterworlds by Zero OhmsRichard Roberts (Zero Ohms) has just released Worlds, Afterworlds, his debut on the Relaxed Machinery label (rM_0019).

Richard is a veteran performer on flutes, wind-synth and other woodwinds. In addition to solo releases, he has collaborated with artists such as Craig Padilla and Markus Reuter, and has produced albums for overtone singer Gordon Rhyne and Inuit shaman Angaangaq.

The five pieces on Worlds, Afterworlds are created with bass flute, wind-synth and field recordings. In an amusing yin-yang progression, the pieces get shorter (and the titles longer) as the album moves forward.

From the beginning of the 28-minute Translation, Richard establishes a minimal, timeless space which is almost hollow at times but never empty. A peaceful stillness holds throughout, lightly punctuated with serene bits of melody, evoking the low, deep breathing (and ringing) of the cosmos – the stillness (full of potential) in which worlds can form. This would be great for meditation, deep listening, background or drift. The birds sound right at home – just as I felt. It made me want to grab a few singing bowls and join in.

This Beautiful Now flows by like a stream, slowing time to irrelevance, evoking and celebrating the joy of being fully present and mindful. It’s never fluff – these slow shifts could almost be tectonic – rather the music is subtle and full in stillness.


Worlds, Afterworlds sample clips by Zero Ohms

Peace of the Pi is a walk in the country on a windy day. Mournful Light of a Gibbous Moon is a melancholy bass flute alone in the moonlight, joined by a second one in a duet of loss.

I Become the Emptiness Thru Which the Axle Turns closes the album with wind-synth lines over a processed wind/hollow bass drone. It’s a soundtrack for letting go and stepping back from the entanglements of this world – perhaps not without regret, but with resolve all the same.

Arvo Pärt famously said that one note beautifully played is enough for him. The music of Zero Ohms perfectly embodies that minimalist ethic. You don’t need a lot of notes when they’re played with the kind of presence and still joy that Richard brings to every moment of playing.

Zero Ohms is yet another impressive addition to the Relaxed Machinery roster of artists, which includes Max Corbacho, Steve Brand, Bob Ohrum, Chris Russell and I’ve Lost. Forthcoming albums from Robert Scott Thompson (December) and Andrew Lahiff (early 2012) can only be expected to increase the label’s panache.

Worlds, Afterworlds is available by download from CD Baby, and is coming on CDR from Hypnos and in FLAC from AD21 Music. Highest recommendation!

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