I must confess I was rather reluctant to check out this album as I knew Ronald Mariën was very into heavy, harsher sounding distorted guitar drone music and abstract sound design since a couple of years.
Fortunately, “Rise” features seven thick layered textural pieces addressing ethereal, melancholic, shadowy and dreamlike moods, all created with one electric guitar, a bass guitar and a whole range of effect pedals. This time around, Stratosphere’s contemporary post-rock/shoe-gazer sound (most notably on “Duality”) carries no sign of interior aggression or bold abressiveness and isn’t tirying. Instead, the rather mysterious, mournful and minimalist-oriented soundscapes feel balanced and harmonic with only shades of darkness and powerlessness passing by occasionally, such as on “Desolation”.
All in all, “Rise” offers guitar-based ambiences for those who want to do some inner soul-searching and discovery.