27th Floor by Passive Refraction (Album Review)
Hiraeth Records released 27th Floor by Passive Refraction on a physical format (Vinyl and Cassette – minidisk was released on minidisk day) and you just know I couldn’t pass this up. I really enjoyed “Building a better world” by 猫 シ Corp. & t e l e p a t h and I fell in love with the ambient style 地球 gave us with “ジャングル” (Jungle) and so I purchased the standard black vinyl version of “27th Floor” without even listening to it first. I tried to listen to a few tracks out of order while I waited for the vinyl to get here but the emotion and world building was lost on me. It wasn’t until I was able to unpack everything and put the needle on the record that I listened to it all the way through from start to finish in one sitting. This album was immediately captivating and became one of my favorite drops of January 2020.
I turned all the lights off aside from the lights on my audio equipment. I put the needle on the front, closed my eyes, and started the adventure. 27th floor puts you in either an alternate timeline or far ahead in the future. Immediately I felt immersed in this world created by Passive Refraction. Part way through the first song I opened my eyes and read the included insert after giving the selfie-style photograph on the front.
On the front side of the vinyl, you get the introduction to the world Passive Refraction has built for us. You get a feeling of the automated hotel system because there is no one around to actually help you but at the same time feeling like you are safe as you finally made it to the hotel. By the time you finish reading the insert included for the first time, “27th Floor” is on. It gives you hope that there is more to this world and you might actually find “J” on the 27th floor. The warm notes give a sense of peace and happiness that is going to come but isn’t quite there yet. You are anxious to find “J” and the music is telling you “J” is here.
When you flip over the vinyl, it’s the same feeling as opening the door to room 2021. You are greeting with a warm embrace of enlightenment as the album dives into deeper depths. The entire side has a light rain in the background letting you know this is all happening to you all at once. How long are you in this room with “J”? You don’t care because you finally found “J”. Even if things aren’t all they seem to be. It’s at this point that everything comes full circle and the secret is out. “J” leaves you a secret message that’s not included in the digital release, or even on the insert. How long have I been looking for “J”? Where even am I? What is this world? There’s a very simple explanation. I seemed to have forgotten a very important detail about our train ride – some kind of accident – and “J” is here to free me from this loop.
This album has become my favorite release from Hiraeth Records and I am very excited to see where any future projects go and what worlds they bring me to. The immediate unnerving feeling from the cover and insert, to the warm grasps of Side B, the world immersion I get from Hiraeth only makes me look forward to their next world they construct. It was everything I was looking for. If I had to put a grade on this album it would have to get a solid A.