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Micah Pick Brighter Than I Thought

This nine-track album draws from a unique style of minimal ambient to varying degrees of success.

Released: 20 May 2020
Brighter Than I Thought

As music minister at a Baptist church in Virginia, Micah Pick's first and only other release is a series of hymns. But Brighter Than I Thought, out last month on Sheffield's Audiobulb Records, looks beyond the congregation.

The nine-track album draws from a unique style of minimal ambient to varying degrees of success. Notably, it follows the pared-back approach mastered by LA-based musician Emily A. Sprague in its simple combination of field recordings and piano processed through modular synths. Typical of Taylor Deupree's 12k imprint, this is a style that foregrounds subtlety. The blips, crackles and whirrs of 'Into the Mountain' best represent this on Pick's album. It's no coincidence Deupree mastered both Pick and Sprague's recent releases.

The less subtle bits hold things back, like the cliched opening 'You Know When You Hear It'. The sound of a train fading into serene piano coaxes out the album's escapist theme but with some awkwardness. Elsewhere Pick treats this with estimable delicacy. The voice recordings in 'Open Up the Sky' and 'Shooting Star' fix you in their present, like good ambient always does.

But, as ever, it's not all pleasant euphoria. 'What We're Fighting Against', a volta of sadness, marks a divide in perspective between past and present.

Where the first half of the record overflows with childish escapism, the second resolves this gloomy half-time reminder by adapting earlier themes. We've seen this structural divide before in JQ's INVISIBLE on the now defunct New Atlantis label. But with its more playful exchange of moods, Brighter Than I Thought proves the more interesting listen.