Phillip Wilkerson is one of the most prolific composers in the field of ambient music, atmospheric music and soundscapes, having produced and released his work since 2006. Phillip issues some of his albums free as netlabel downloads, and he also sells others commercially on CD. “Highlands” is one of his free releases, this one being his first on the Free Floating Music netlabel.
The opening track, “The Light Becomes You”, is absolutely gorgeous. The listener is completely immersed in a golden glow of warm ambient pads, which very slowly shimmer back and forth across the stereo soundfield. This is ambient music at its very best. It creates a great sense of inner calm. There’s no rhythm in the conventional sense – no percussion – yet the music moves with a slow pulse that’s almost at a subliminal level.
“The Mirror of God” starts quietly, and fades in slowly to a large, complex chord hovering on one side of the soundfield, with a higher, delicate series of tones on the other. The effect is quite extraordinary, especially when listened to on headphones. The music evolves very slowly again here, but carries a much grander, majestic feel than the opener.
The shortest track on the album, “Two Breaths of Forever”, is the only one that clocks in at under ten minutes. It’s sweetly evocative, with a little more motion than the two before it. There’s little in the way of bass on the album as a whole, but there’s really none to speak of here. It’s based on a series of chord sequences. Towards the end, the chords start to unravel, almost into individual notes. It’s not difficult at all to imagine this piece being used towards the end of a film.
The album finishes with its longest track, “Sweet Eva Lena”. This drifts along in a serene way, with elongated higher and lower pads meshing into lush, spacious, slowly changing textures. It really doesn’t get much more chilled than this. Contemplative music to relax to, to imagine, to reminisce, to daydream.
The cover, by the label’s owner Brad Ross-MacLeod, fits the album perfectly. All in all, a perfect package. Go download it now.