“Reflect – Metal of Tao” by Jason and Robin Campbell
In “Reflect – Metal of Tao,” the star single from their 2019 LP Five Elements of Tao, sibling collaborators Jason and Robin Campbell issue one of the more formidable soundscapes in contemporary new age defined as much by textural expressiveness as it is melodic surrealism, and whether you’re familiar with either of these fine artists’ work or not, it’s a treat for the mind, body and soul without debate. “Reflect – Metal of Tao” is but one of the six tracks that comprise the cerebral sonic journey that is its parent album, but if you want a fair sampling of what the record contains, this is the song I’d tell you to start with.
The piano in this track has a great tonality, but it doesn’t overshadow any of the other components in the harmony at all – truth be told, I don’t think that anything could ever completely eclipse the vocal that Robin Campbell contributes to “Reflect – Metal of Tao,” and moreover, the emotion that it adds to the lyrical narrative in every verse we encounter here. Balance is everything in this genre of music, and for the Campbells, it’s even more integral to the construction of a composition than production value is (not that this single is lacking in polish by any critical measurement).
Robin Campbell’s singing is accented with a moderate reverberation, and in the grander scheme of things, I think this wasn’t totally necessary if the goal here was to make her voice as omnipotent as possible. She’s a vocalist who doesn’t really need a whole heck of a lot of assistance behind the soundboard to sound both angelic and monolithic, and considering the elegant backdrop her voice is afforded in all of the songs on Five Elements of Tao, we’re getting about as rich a performance from her as we could ask for in a studio-born capacity.
Though the entirety of Five Elements of Tao is quite captivating, I think it’s safe to say that “Reflect – Metal of Tao” is the most compositionally amalgamative track that a listener could examine to understand who Jason and Robin Campbell are as musicians, and moreover, songwriters. Striking and slightly postmodern in its aesthetical fusion of solemn melodies into an otherwise progressive harmony, this really was the best choice for lead single, and I doubt that I’m the only critic in the last year to have noted as much.
Fans of both ambient and new age music in general really can’t afford to miss out on the smoldering tonality of this fascinating release from the Campbell siblings, both of whom bring their A-game to the studio in “Reflect – Metal of Tao” without introducing any of the arrogance that would normally accompany a recording from two artists as respected within their scene as this pair is. There are a lot of really enthralling albums out there beyond Five Elements of Tao right now, but if you want something that is as consistent as it is hypnotizing, you can’t do much better than what Jason and Robin Campbell have done here.