Interworld Media

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Focus 27

Focus 27

By Phoneutrian

Released 14 June, 2024

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Focus 27 finds Phoneutrian considering the possibilities of an afterlife, with these thoughts informing the various evocative synths, found sounds and eerie spaces. Its title comes from the Monroe Institute’s categorisation of states of consciousness (or ‘Focus Levels’):

“Focus 27 – The edge of human thought capacity. The site of a way-station (not a terminus) for rest and recovery from the trauma of physical death, for reviewing life events and for planning the next phase of life.” – Monroe Institute

Samples of field recordings and found sounds appear throughout. On ‘Frozen and Bathed In Light from the Plane’, one of the two triptych-like tracks on the album, a voice states “down flights of stone steps” as a haunting wash of crystalline sounds surround the listener. ‘Nightie (Membranous Breakthrough)’ revolves around the story of a guardian angel visiting a person’s mother, taken from an unknown cassette tape, soundtracked by ghostly synths reminiscent of encoded transmissions and radio signals. ‘I Will Be With You’ starts with a cryptic message and continues through warm synths floating over recordings of walking around a city. Stuttering vocal samples drift into coherence and out again on ‘From My Heart To Your Heart’, as if desperately trying to communicate something in a manner akin to a paranormal researcher’s spirit box device.

Elsewhere, samples are weaved in or used to create new uncanny instruments and environments. The album’s opener, ‘Grandfather’, sees a low-fidelity clock chime echoing out as it glides up and down arpeggiated melodies. This is followed by the amniotic euphoria of ‘Core Never Dies’, consisting of breathy flutes that end up sounding like splashing waves. The textures on ‘Mouthing The Words To “Silent Night”’ slowly pulse in a manner reminiscent of the sleepy drones from Stars of the Lid. While incredibly slow, there is a rushing quality to these seemingly motionless swells, possibly also suggesting something travelling immensely fast. The final track, the mysterious three-part ‘Focus’, starts with a chaotic reversing wash of noise, giving way to a choir loop and finally drifting into harp samples backed by uncertain chords and resonant echoes.

The album is full of references to other planes of existence. Phoneutrian explains: “I was thinking about how ‘focus’ can mean two things: waves syncing up and resonating to pinpoint energy to a specific location, and a person paying attention to something and giving it meaning. Here could be where people’s spirits remain, in our memories of them and the objects we have placed significance in to remind us of them.

“As messages can be encoded and decoded, so too might a person’s soul be encoded, once their brain develops enough to act as a prism for soul waves. And if a semi-conscious version of myself were to travel to another plane of existence, in an encoded form, this might be the kind of thing I’d experience. Or maybe not.

“Really, I’m motivated less by actual theories that people come up with to explain it all, and more by the thoughts and feelings that I’ve had to confront as I’ve lost various people close to me, the grief and longing and understanding that people we are close to aren’t coming back, though might continue on in our memories of them. These kinds of emotions have directly inspired this album.”

Music by Phoneutrian

Artwork by Zaron Mizmeras.