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Michael Stearns – Planetary Unfolding

Published on May 22, 2010

michael stearns planetary unfoldingLet’s go with something a little more left-field here: this is Planetary Unfolding by ambient composer Michael Stearns.

I’ll be blunt, right out of the gates, here: this record is fucking massive.  It’s impossibly rich and deep and creates a sonic environment so palpable, so galactically leviathan, that it should be measured in light years, not decibels.  It absolutely puts Tangerine Dream and “Thus Spake Zarathrustra” and 9 Beet Stretch and “Echoes” and maybe even the KLF’s Chill Out, my previous candidate for the most immersive, nebula-reaching bliss on record, to shame.

A term like “soundscape” does not do the all-encompassing, cavernously deep and toweringly tall synth explorations on Planetary Unfolding justice.  Soundplane?  No.  Too earthbound.  This record’s downright interstellar, all about dimension, size, and presence, and it towers over you like a glacial, crystalline tsunami miles high, an always-cresting, sparklingly otherworldly wall of sound.

And when you listen to Stearns’s masterpiece, you definitely want that wall of sound cranking as loudly as possible.  Planetary Folding is maximal ambient music, the kind that positively demands impressively loud listening volumes.

Take a step back from the rather pedestrian, kinda cliched album title and look at it with a fresh set of eyes.  Planetary Unfolding.  This album is every bit as epic, expansive, epochal, ambitious, star-reaching, and jaw-droppingly huge as that title suggests.  It suggests a cataclysmic genesis, creation on an astronomical scale.  I already used this word, but I’ll use it again: Planetary Unfolding is a masterpiece, an ode to distances and places far beyond our quotidian world.


If that all sounds like a bunch of breathless hooey, listen to the record and tell me if you disagree.  I’m serious.  It’s the greatest find in recent memory.  Major kudos to Mutant Sounds for unearthing this thing.

I know I promised some Pram, and it hasn’t happened yet.  Sit tight.  Shit’ll go down soon enough, I promise.  Also, more psychedelic delicacies are on-deck, including, perhaps, a breathless rush of adulation for those lords of minimalist psych, Spacemen 3.

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