Review Summary: Perhaps on the path to Nirvana, one must have an identity crisis.
In opposition to the hard-hitting club sound, Approaching Nirvana offers a more laid back path to very listenable electronic music. It's a curious series of textures that are familiar in their sound but unfamiliar in the execution; akin to liquid drum and bass minus the constant rapid-fire beats, the end product that is Lapse In Time
has a certain fluidity that has removed from the listener an inclination to dance. Indeed, most of the tunes on the album are probably not suitable as dance motivators, but are instead more orchestral in nature, choosing to revel occasionally in twinkly notes and bombastic string arrangements. While this approach has crafted a series of chill-out house tunes, Approaching Nirvana has not properly executed this technique, resulting in a long album of watered down and generally forgettable house tracks and an inconsistent direction.
Out of Lapse In Time
's twelve actual songs (with the remaining four extended/original mixes being clumsily shoved before the outro), roughly half of that is dedicated to wholly electronic songs, featuring glitzy pads and buildups galore. The album then makes a marked transition to almost purely orchestral affairs, featuring plenty of string arrangements, horn sections, and of course the piano. The only notable track where orchestral and electronic influences are melded seamlessly is "Worth A Thousand Pictures." Perhaps it's lazy album organization, but the album feels extremely split in two, and Approaching Nirvana's seeming refusal to tackle a single cohesive direction may mar expectations. But the main issue I have with Approaching Nirvana is how homogeneously written the first half of the album is. While their "chillstep" approach could feasibly be done well, too many predictable buildups are thrown in almost wantonly. The textures involved are not by any means displeasing, but they can be too similar to each other and repetitively arranged to hold interest. It's possible to argue that the album goes in one ear and out of the other on purpose, but it pretends to be much more than it turns out to be. What is worth mentioning, however, is the second half of the album; the arrangements there shy away from the bilge of vapid dance music and instead make room for epic moments that would be at home on a movie score. "Motionless Thoughts" is an entrancing piano piece, and "Shadows' Vigilante" features a non-electronic buildup that faintly reminded me of a Batman movie due to its scale and intensity. This is where Approaching Nirvana shows its mettle, but unfortunately even this approach is not enough to save them from their lack of direction and same-y electronica.