I’m never disappointed when I walk into the musical world of Thomas Ragsdale. He’s always building these strange and beautiful sonic structures where I can spend ample time getting lost and discovering new and exciting things. It puts me in mind of a particular memory from my childhood.
As a kid we’d go to a furniture store downtown whenever my parents would get the itch to look for a new couch or end tables. As they’d hem and haw looking at couches and love seats, my brother and I would disappear upstairs into this incredibly quiet labyrinth of chairs, mattresses, bed frames, and sectional couches. The smell of fabric and musty old building wafted thru the air as we made our way thru these set up scenes of home life. It was like being on another planet, or getting lost in some melancholy episode of The Twilight Zone. When we’d encounter another human on our journey it was as if we’d been lost to time for years(in reality it was more like 15 minutes.)
This is the feeling I get when I step into Thomas Ragsdale’s music world.
On his latest Soundtracking The Void release titled Sonder, those feelings of getting lost in some upholstered dream world come rushing back to me. We dive head first into the heady, dense world of Komische-heavy space and ambient, dream-like worlds of synth.
Take something like the industrial, white noise ambivalence of “Gnossienne”. It’s the sound of deep contemplation. It’s the those moments of absolute quiet that turn into fuzzy, buzzing swarms of thoughts in existential quiet. “Lumine” continues this warbling sound of digital tide hitting some metaphorical shore of anxiety. It quickly become a mournful melody, rising from the fuzz of sleep. A moment of waking from some forgotten dream. A visit from someone long dead, or someone that never even existed.
“Silience” builds slowly, working like this musical sonar emanating from some ancient depth. “Opia” begins in a swirl of static and synthetic wilderness, but emerges from it with an eternal malaise. Ragsdale’s synthesizers wane and wail like circuital whales from some deep space crypt.
Throughout four songs at over 40 minutes, Thomas Ragsdale’s Sonder sounds and feels like a walk through the sound of blood flowing thru veins. It’s a very organic album. It feels like waking from a long, ancient sleep. Or the gauzy reality you step into after surgery. The dull, aching realization of something missing, whether it be good or bad. Sonder is an extremely heavy listen, and one where everyone steps in equally, but leaves it with very differing results. Though, all for the better.
8.3 out of 10
Sonder is out now via Soundtracking The Void. Sonder is accompanied by a limited edition run of wooden USB sticks housed in a handmade wood box with a set of artwork postcards. The limited edition version is sold out, but you can order the digital version here.