Spiritually infused and with one foot in electronica and the other in nature, Vancouver’s Marc-E creates music called psybient. It’s best described as part ambient and part synthy, with a peppering of world instruments and a healthy dose of wacky psychedelic sounds. Catharsis is a restless album full of curiosity and is reflective of its creator; the record is very much a trip in and of itself.
This release truly excels when blending rustic sounds, down-to-earth percussion, guitars, and delicate synths. Marc-E fuses live and electronic elements to deliver musical musings on natural wonders that are easy to get hypnotized by and lost in.
Starting things off is the washed-out psychedelic ‘Acceptance’, with its chimey bells and ethereal atmospheres that gain ground with the percussion and piano. Progressively, a beat emerges along with a consuming bass line that eats up a lot of aural space. A meditative and curious piece all round.
Taking an astutely Eastern angle on ‘Seeds of Faith’ and even aboriginal vibes on ‘Dreamtime’, Marc-E demonstrates his worldly palette and appetite for sewing such a broad musical tapestry into otherwise strictly modern sounding music. There are natural elements woven in that capture environments like a goopy swamp or animals crying out, and digeridoos paint a scene akin to going on a walkabout in the Aussie outback.
A notable trait throughout the album is Marc-E’s skill at constructing and organising pieces to build a story and immersive experience for the listener. A perfect example would be ‘Surrendering to Now’, which incorporates similar naturalist sound design elements to develop a dreamy, gentle, and peaceful vibe that guides you along. This one contrasts a lot of the darker sonic adventures found in earlier tracks and demonstrates a tender beauty in Marc-E’s work.
Wrapping up the album is ‘Full Armour’, which tears back in with a more epic approach via stormy weather as the backing soundscape. Marc-E’s ripping guitar leads are on full display on this track, with some ’80s-ish stadium rock leads tearing through the trip-hop beats and glistening synth melodies.
If there’s one thing you cannot fault Marc-E for on Catharsis, it’s imagination. The album lacks flow in certain spots, but overall, it’s an ever-changing, iterative journey that takes countless unknown turns with pleasant surprises. There’s ample contrast between the dark and brooding depths and joyful resuscitations, which illustrate the artist’s ability to paint detailed, evolving pictures with instrumental sound.