Faith/Reason by Lunar Orbit Rendezvous
Celestial, Eno-inspired Ambient
Reverse engineering one of Brian Eno's studio tricks (involving "an echo and a reverb being wired up in a certain way") clearly opened a new hatch for Belfast producer Gregory Ferguson, as his second album Faith/Reason spacewalks blissfully into tasteful Ambient territory. Ferguson's 2018 self-titled album, under the acronym LOR, was unsurprisingly space-focused ("Lunar Orbit Rendezvous" is the technical term used to describe the process for safely landing on the moon) with its 80s/Carpenter-inspired vibe and liberal use of NASA vocal samples. So while this new one could arguably soundtrack a Netflix space documentary, the obvious space references are only there for listeners who crave it... apart from the second track, which is called Music For Spaceports.
Eno-inspiration aside, technical wizardry clearly informs Ferguson's work, using software like Auras and generative techniques (i.e. programming the computer to write the melody) to develop his ideas — sampling, manipulation and processing sound is how most Ambient electronic music is made after all. Where Ferguson excels with Faith/Reason is in his choice of sounds and how he has assembled them into an exquisite 35 minute despatch, balancing tension and release with subtle skill, be that with a treated Gregorian-style chant, sampled strings or a weird noise cleverly transformed into a subtle rhythmic pattern. It's the understated touches like the piano flourish coupled with the throbbing synth on Last Program Run or the light-dappled vision that emerges from the sounds on the title track that mark the difference between a small step and a giant leap. In this case, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous has safely landed.