“Urban Metta, Vol. 1”, is the debut album by Anaamaly (pronounced “uh-nom-uh-lee), the alias of electronic music composer Phil Strickland. Featuring eleven tracks that are titled after different affirmations, it is a deeply relaxing electronic album with many organic elements. Peaceful, subtle melodies drift in and out over a bed of droning bass lines, washes of synths, and many unidentifiable or muted sounds throughout that seem to mimic nature. A notable feature of the compositions is its balanced incorporation of lower musical tones, which lends to an overall more grounded feel, whereas a lot of new age or ‘spa’ music is largely dominated by higher musical tones that can often result in an overly saccharine sound. This pleasing quality may be due to Phil Strickland’s musical background in chillout, downtempo and instrumental hip-hop.
Conveyed throughout the album is a feeling of being submerged in a watery abode, as rays of light peer through obscurity. Lots of subtle, intricate textures move about in a relatively compact space, as opposed to an expanse or open terrain, and the compositions seem to explore inner rather than outer worlds. Favorite tracks include “I Walk Through Fire”, with its slow transitions of contrasting crystalline textures and distorted effects; the lighter, more gossamer “I Embrace All Wisdom”; and “I Love Unconditionally”, with its sparse, gurgled melody and voice-like effects throughout. The closing track, “I Am Healed on All Levels”, is appropriately, also the brightest piece, as if the listener is rising to the surface while being imbued with a sense of hope and lightness.
Although “Urban Metta, Vol 1” is certainly recommended for relaxation and spa therapies, it boasts enough aural intricacies to serve as an equally rewarding listening experience on headphones. I look forward to hearing other outputs from this diverse musical composer, including what will presumably be a second installment of the Urban Metta Experience.