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Stray Theories – This Light

New Zealand based musician, Micah Templeton-Wolfe has been active for more than 15 years under the Stray Theories guise. Initially recording for his own listening, then for film, Templeton-Wolfes work spans the ambient, post rock and neoclassical genres. With a strong body of work already under his belt, Stray Theories signed to the specialist n5MD label, releasing All That Was Lost in 2018. This Light is his second long player for the label and Stray Theories fourth overall and yet it feels more significant than those bare facts might suggest. This Light seems important, both as a tent peg release for the label this year but also as a culmination of Stray Theories work to date. Despite this it also feels humble, an important release then, but lacking in any kind of self-importance.

The compositions themselves are predominantly tranquil and even at times melancholic. However they still containing a shimmering accessibility. Even This Light’s most fragile compositions develop a kind of understated grandeur. The album feels personal, therapeutic even, as though its author took time out to reflect and documented his feelings into music. Witness midway track ‘Empath’ which twinkles away, gently unfolding to reveal its sweeping finale.

This Light conjures associations with landscapes. There are mountains here but also distance. There are shadows and a wintery chill but any frost here will eventually give way to a warming sunlight. This is a touching record and I tip my hat to Templeton-Wolfe. The ambient, post orchestral space is far from an empty one. Some iconic artists play in this field and there have been some serious releases, especially of late. Yet Stray Theories has nailed the fine balancing act between atmosphere and calm. This Light is very beautiful. Let’s bathe in it.

Stray Theories – All That Was Lost


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