Each release by Loren Nerell is good for listeners, and even better for dreamers. Spanning a range of sonic terrain, from minimal and dark, to powerful and enlivening, his The Gong Prophet (63'24") is a deep cerebral journey to a place, suggested by the composer, but ultimately defined by the individual. In its torrent of reverberating electronics this tech-tinged hybrid work seems of a primordial past, somehow beamed to the present day. The most identifiable sound sources throughout its six tracks may be that which is struck, blown or plucked, but it is more from murky synth textures and wildlife field recordings that Nerell achieves his signature mindspace. Sounding through dense digital reverberation tones heave against an atmospheric weight, as synthetic sonorities combine with acoustic instruments in a specific gravity. In a blend of ceremony and technology timbre, pitch, and rhythm are arranged to form the perfect nocturnal nowhere. With the note cycles of gamelan and other percussion instruments originating from specific areas of the globe, this music moves beyond the boundaries of any Western construct of time. In places shaded and subdued, The Gong Prophet exudes nuanced notes of reverence and ceremony rarely known in contemporary innovative music. While synthesizers seem to rub up against cold bronze, up-close listening reveals the sound elements to be beautiful; worn, rough and resonant in ways that invite contemplative scrutiny. Shifts between shadow and light, and stasis and change, carry us along a steadily expanding compositional arc. Passages heated by the urgent force of seething patterns declare Nerell's grip - and are readily built-out by guest musicians: Patrick Bagacina, Forrest Fang, Markus Reuter, Steve Roach, Mark Seelig, Nyoman Wenten and Erik Wøllo. Subtle and inexorable, each piece spins and moves ahead in metal-keyed meter. Emerging from this potency, a tenebrous mood clouds our thoughts, and conjures a land we can only visit while listening to The Gong Prophet. Loren Nerell realizes work for the world that surrounds him, by means of the world that is within him. For the listener, swathed in its suggestive shadows, we dwell knowingly within ourselves.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 3 June 2021