Album Review: “Those Who Remain” by Stray Theories

Born in Australia and based in New Zealand, Micah Templeton-Wolfe produces fine quality ambient electronica under the moniker Stray Theories.  His brand new LP, “Those Who Remain” is a stellar follow up to the excellent “Even Though We Sleep” released last year.  Once again, Micah combines pure ambient style, a modern classical aesthetic, and emotional melodicism to create a beautiful and rewarding listening experience.

The album opens with ‘The Day We Were Silent’ and ‘When You Return’, each creating a wintry sonic landscape from rich synthesizer tones, deeply reverberating piano, and atmospheric percussion.  Don’t let this give you the impression that this is musical wallpaper, however.  There is a sense that a story is being told here, one that seems marked by a sense of loss and regret.  Just listen to the tensely melodramatic ‘Remembrance’ followed by the melancholic ‘Promises’ and the deeply wistful ‘Exposure’ and you may find your own emotions have been drawn very close to the surface.

Following the dramatic arc of the opening six tracks is ‘Divisions’, which is quite affecting and stands out for it’s minimalist approach featuring solo piano accompanied only by a faint, almost tribal, beat.  It also serves as something of a turning point as the album concludes on a more forward looking note with bright synthesizer tones blooming at the end of ‘Signs of Life’ and comforting looped guitars making an appearance in ‘All I Know’.

There is a glassy smooth purity throughout “Those Who Remain”, yet it never feels detached thanks to a well-constructed melodic framework and the depth of emotion that imbues each song.  Add the mastering of Taylor Deupree to all of this musical craft and you have one very complete and satisfying album that is beautiful both to the ears and to the heart.

Links: Bandcamp (digital) | Already Dead Tapes & Records (cassette)

“Those Who Remain” is available digitally from the Stray Theories Bandcamp site and as a limited edition cassette from Already Dead Tapes & Records.  See links below for more information and enjoy a preview mix of the album here via Soundcloud right here.