Rohne – Meridian

The sense of space that occupies the eight tracks of Meridian is not small. Rohne is the project of Keenan Branch, and this album is the product of the artist’s global travels. His bio references a home studio, and a bunch of remote kit that was carried through India. The title, of course, points to the constant circling of the planet. It also points to the flow of energy within a body. The space here is both internal, external, and somewhat existential.

Typically, when the subject of travel, or meditative reflection is represented in music we can expect driven beats, the blending of ‘exotic’ instruments, or some amorphous noodling as effects are poured across the face of synths. The results are neither ambient, nor are they solid enough to be worthy of attention. The world has no shortage of nice white producers throwing themselves through cultural exchanges. They emerge with an appropriation of the sounds they experienced; they tether those noises to some high-pitch metronomic measure, and then dispatch the work to their local spa.

Where Rohne distinguishes himself is in an apparent disinterest in the material world, or framework of given rules. On an album that concerns itself with internal and external energies he celebrates process rather than result. He pauses on the ethereal, and doesn’t implant meaning, or personal targets onto the audience. ‘Here are some thoughts, let’s see where they lead’ could be another title. Judgement, destination, conclusion are much less the point.

An instrumental album of this nature, dealing with nature, has very little definition beyond the track titles. There are references to external landmarks, but for the main Rohne concentrates his focus, lightly on the elements. ‘Meru’ is much less to do with the mountain at the spiritual center of Tibetan lore. It is more to do with the light that bounces off the mountain, and the lives that are touched by the faith. ‘Highlands’ similarly, is not a track about mountains alone, but it’s an abstract depiction of the spirits that climb and exist in those remote places, where focus ratio is simultaneously landscape, and portrait.

Meridian isn’t an album that concerns itself with the timeliness of release. There is nothing here that speaks directly to the contemporary scene, political landscape, or media trends. The result, of course, is an album that is more deeply affecting. Rohne clearly uses digitialism, and synthesized devices, but his intent is the revelation of organic process. He leans from fashion, and appears intent on fathoming out his own style.

Fans of Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, and Goldmund will hear the references of tone, and the distance between beats in Rohne’s templates. He weighs the measure of space, but never overstates a pause; there is no drama from suspense. These tracks simply navigate mossy footholds across a stream. Many elements, many intentions, all working in the larger whole, but in an unhurried, unhesitating process.

With Meridian Rohne has avoided cliché. We are either high, or deep in a process, and so the focus of things feels unusual. Good Unusual. The expression of energy and inclusion is remarkable, unhurried and good. In a world that clammers for attention, or to insert itself in the business of others Rohne has retreated to produce something of this world, and out of this world.



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