Regular readers of The Static Dive know the name Noah Avery well. He is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist producer and music teacher from Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2018 he made his professional solo recording debut with the album “A Lone Image.” That record was a deeply personal introduction to a talented artist trying to come to terms with a recent cancer diagnosis.
Noah Avery has released a total of four full length albums since his debut. Each has served as an annual snapshot of the composer’s ongoing physical and spiritual battle with an unrelenting illness. Musically and thematically Noah takes his cues from the great psychedelic Prog-Rock pioneers like Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons and the cerebral Art-Pop of visionaries like Peter Gabriel and David Bowie.
“Roundwood” is the latest album from Noah Avery, released worldwide on all major streaming services on November 9, 2021. The 13-song collection presents a more organic sound for the producer. His music has always been a mix of analog and electronic, and the same can definitely be said here. However, on “Roundwood” acoustic instruments live at the heart of each song. From the opener “Aimee” to the closer “Lullaby,” lush musical soundscapes bloom from the simple strum of an acoustic guitar.
Lyrically the record represents a subtle shift in theme as well. Noah Avery’s cancer was temporarily in remission while he was making the album. We can’t presume to know what that meant to the artist, but we can hear the impact in his work. He is still exploring the themes of life, love and the impermanence of both. However, his earlier work asked as many questions as it answered. On “Roundwood” Noah is not focused on an uncertain future, but is instead taking inventory of the lessons learned from life so far.
He offers a bit of Zen wisdom about living in the present and the value of connecting with others on tracks like “Say Yes” and the “All in Love.” He looks back wistfully at the haste and impatience of youth on “Twenty Five Years” and the wildly experimental “Shaky Summer.” When he does look to the future and his own mortality, the messaging is all for those who will live on. For example, on the emotionally powerful and poetic “Bedside” he sings, “Don’t stand by my bedside. Don’t stand by my grave. I’m not there.”
Each of Noah Avery’s albums are intended to be listened to as a whole. The records are structured not as a collection of songs but instead as a succession of musical movements. Each track flows into the next without any discernible break. It’s no small feat to create an entire hour of uninterrupted music that is cohesive and naturally flowing. Noah is an expert at doing so. For example, the 4-song “Waited” arc at the heart of the album is its own mini-masterpiece of the style.
At a technical level, Noah Avery has added a three dimensional depth to his sound for an even more immersive experience. Throughout the record he incorporates an audio technique known as binaural beats. In a nutshell, the process splits a sound in half, pans those halves hard left/right, and then shifts the frequency of one half slightly. In the same way it draws lines between the stars to create constellations, the human mind fills in the space between the two tones with the frequencies that separate them. That’s the science. In practical application, on “Roundwood” the technique adds a rich depth of sound to an already beautiful recording.
“Roundwood” is the sound of a deeply talented artist at the top of his craft. And it is a testament to the lessons one man has learned after spending the last few years facing his own mortality. Over the course of four albums, Noah Avery has brought us along on his emotional journey of joy, pain, regret and hope. We come away from this latest chapter of his story with a profound appreciation for the simple miracle of being alive.
Check out “Roundwood” in its entirety below, or listen on your favorite streaming service. You can also hear the song “Twenty Five Years” on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Noah Avery. Get on his socials and join him on this musical journey.