Music can be many things. It can be harsh and subterranean just as readily as it can be starlit and soft. So, for anyone with any poetry in their heart, the shimmering soundscapes and exploratory pleasures of multi-instrumentalist Serena Gabriel should feel as if from a loftier realm. Her album Inanna's Dream (70'27") [produced by Steve Roach as the inaugural release from his new SoundQuest Music label] manifests an affectionate attunement to a calm, controlled and detailed aural artistry. Its six tracks present ideas about ambient space, and how sound may intersect with mood - transforming the two in the process. Peacefully paced, as if part of a devotional ritual, Inanna's Dream produces a reserved resonant energy. Within its meticulously designed arrangements we journey from one region to the next in an easy onward motion. Constructed from shades of rounded electronics, distant voices, and a soothing drifting consonance, this album emphasizes this genre's capacity for elemental beauty. Characterized by the reiteration of extended phrases and extended sound generation, tones swell and resound sweetly through an infinite distance. Tranquil notes hold and intertwine, then ripple and decay. Sustaining warm chords gently gather and build - to later recede into a lulling infinite moment. Elsewhere Gabriel's signature phonetic textures roam, hover, then settle together in a beautiful vocalise. As ethereal "oohs" and breathy "aahs" transform under a mysterious undulant atmosphere, a stirring warmth comes to us - as if Gabriel's heart were trying to reach out, concealed in one of those extended sighs. She has the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each benevolent breath will be released just the one time. Along with the echoing calls and chants, here and there we can make out a harmonium, didgeridoo, lyre, or wooden flute among the subtly shifting synthesizer keys. But these works are so exquisitely balanced in their manipulation of the sound space that one scarcely notices the separate elements. Throughout these passages of beaming reverie and lustrous stasis Gabriel's music casts a mesmerizing spell. Inanna's Dream is so beautiful that its existence might suggest a higher plane. Therefore, this music could be a bit beyond the level of comprehension of the average Spacemusic fan - in a world as compromised as ours a soul such as Gabriel's may be comprehended not. Her work is the end point in a long process of seeking and of thought - a point where time becomes space, and something of the human spirit has come to bear.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 14 January 2021