Daniel O’Sullivan – Fourth Density

5 out of 5

Label: VHF Records

Produced by: Daniel O’Sullivan

Daniel O’Sullivan is cheating a little bit.

Electric Maya, the first in a series of library music commissions / partnerships with KPM Music (and released by VHF), Daniel’s construction of otherworldly hymns, with affectations of pop and kraut and folk, resulted in wonderfully layered, but slight, set of music, rather fitting to the ephemeral, of-the-moment nature of the project; these are tracks made to exist solely on their own, and – if used for their original purpose – set as moody but faceless background music for some future media project.

On Fourth Density, O’Sullivan’s second KPM entry out of an intended trio, the artist has crafted 15 songs that are anything but slight, and furthermore, despite a really impassioned explanation of his approach on the bandcamp page, this functions very much as an album – an experience – that necessitates a full listen. While the individual tracks absolutely maintain the same depth as before, and thus function on their own as well, the record comes across as spiritual, through and through – track names like Perpetual Ascension, Orgone Attentuation, Saraswati (I had to look this one up – Hindu goddess of knowledge) feel too consistent to be coincidental – crafting a journey of spiritual discovery, and doubt, and acceptance, one that piles up those emotions the deeper you go, making for quite a release when you get to mid-album celebration Arming the Seraphim (interestingly named, that one), or the somber, Richard Youngs-esque Swampland Flowers, signaling when the listener has come back to a relative “reality.”

As mentioned, every song can stand by itself, and in an even stronger fashion than on Maya, as instead of aiming to evoke a mood or sound within the 2-3 minute parameters, O’Sullivan gives us full beginnings, middles, and ends, hazing into any given song and evolving it gorgeously, with strings, keys, vocals, and all else working in often mesmerizing harmony. Then back to the album sensibility, these same songs also feel like they’re given context in terms of what comes before or after – there are just no gaps in this thing.

So perhaps it’s “cheating” library music, but then again, that’s exactly what KPM is after: redefining exactly what that genre can be, and so O’Sullivan has very much cheated his way to a win.