Omni Gardens’ West Coast Escapism from 2018 was one of my favorite albums of that year. I’d never really given new age music much thought prior to that record. There was this idea that formed in my brain early on that new age music was the scent of incense and was made by guys that looked like Doug Henning or John Oates. It always seemed one bad trip from becoming born-again Christian.
But then I hear Steve Rosborough’s Omni Gardens’ project and was taken aback by how deep and forward-thinking it was. West Coast Escapism was a record filled with light and life, but also shaded in spots. It was calm and peaceful, but not closed off from the darkness that lives around us and within us on a daily basis.
Steve Rosborough has returned as Omni Gardens with the sublime and exquisite Moss King. There’s a flow with this new album. It’s an album that feels like life growing. The songs feel as if they’re perpetually growing and building from one another, like a vine up a cobblestone wall.
Moss King was recorded in the early days of Covid. The music is less expansive and not the world-building vibes of West Coast Escapism. This is more an intimate record; warm tones and pockets of calm made to drown out the noise and uncertainty just outside the door. In Steve Rosborough’s words, “playful, serene and healing sounds for watching your plants grow.”
“Watering Plants” has the trickle of running water with its bouncy warm synth tones. You can almost see the spider plant hanging in front of the kitchen window as the water falls from the watering can. It’s calming and begins to melt into the air around you in a galactic shower of analog rain. “Cool Off” sounds like walking outside after a hard rain. Synth tones wash down the drain like rain water, as trickles drop from tree limbs. “Far-Out Greens” has a gauzy, 70s feel to it. It’s like you switched on the tube TV to PBS during a show on astronomy.
Rosborough gets some help on the seven minute “Wood Grain” with Suzanne Pfutzenreuter on chimes and rainstick. “Wood Grain” is the deep dive track here. While the rest of the album feels very micro and like songs for apartment living during isolation, “Wood Grain” feels very cosmic and expansive. You can imagine worlds forming in the blackness of space here. It’s vast, mysterious, and awe-inspiring. “Oolong” brings us back to where we started, beautifully intimate, mildly psychedelic, and lit like sunlight shining thru the kitchen window at sunrise.
Omni Gardens does it once again with the intimate and personal Moss King. An album to watch plants grow, indeed. But also an album to calm the nerves and ease the soul in trying times. Psychedelic photosynthesis for your lockdown existential crisis.
8.2 out of 10
Moss King is out now. Buy it now via Moon Glyph Records.