Press Reviews




Eternity is John Lyell's second solo release and his fourth release total counting the two releases he did with Brent Reiland from 1998 and 2002.

Eternity is pretty much a one man show for John who composed, performed, engineered and produced this new album at Light Year Studios in Minneapolis,MN. Heck he even did the graphic design, the layout and the art concept of the project as well. The only thing that was outsourced so to speak was the digital mastering which was done by another well-known talent in the ambient music field in the person of Robert Rich in his Soundscape Studios in Mountain View, CA.

John has included 10 wonderful tracks on this release with only two of them falling below the 6 minute threshold so listeners are in for some excellent long form pieces that will allow them to really enter into each composition and into the album as a whole. The album runs a little over an hour at 63:17.

First off let me say that I love this album as a whole. The compositions are well suited to each other and even as the tempo occasionally changes it does not disrupt the flow of where the music wants to take you. John has created some fantastic otherwordly moods on this album which envelopes you in densely atmospheric soundscapes that massage the mind allowing you to open to the journey before you. The song titles tell me that the journey is one that could be an extra planetary voyage beyond this world or perhaps a journey within yourself as you contemplate the meaning of eternity or exactly what forever might mean to you. Either way the music is well suited to providing a soundtrack to that journey because whether you journey within or without the compositions stir just the right kinds of emotions as you listen.

The album starts with a deep spacey kind of song called Eternity. It is a contemplative and peaceful song that allows the listener to untether themselves from their day to day worries and enter in fully to the world that John has created with this album. It is fitting that this is also the title song of the album as well since it does indeed set the pace for what is to come. I have always enjoyed pieces that engage me as a listener and invite me to "hear" the music actively instead of lurking passively in the background while I am busy doing something else. Don't get me wrong I also enjoy purely ambient music that requires nothing of me other than to load the disc in my player and go about my business letting the music break into my consciousness whenever I have a break in what I am doing. It's just that I have always liked to pay attention to what I am listening to whether that is the lyrics in a new rock song or a layered piece of ambient/space music by John Lyell.

By the way Eternity is one of my favorite songs on this album. Of course I could probably say that about most of the songs on here but this one does stand out to me. The song has a mysterious haunting quality to it that evokes images of unfamiliar waters or uncharted space all the while creating a sense of adventure in the back of your mind about where the music will ultimately lead you. Some of my other favorite tracks from this release are Dreams of Orion, Pulse of Destiny and the closing song called The Breath of Time. Pulse of Destiny is the first song that you might say has a beat or some sort of rhythm. The repeating rhythm that flows through this whole song is an apt way of looking at destiny in that it illustrates perfectly the inevitable movement of things and events towards a predetermined conclusion. While this pulse is moving the song forward you will also hear water sounds along the way and other synths that punctuate the journey adding some sonic variations to the landscape.

Another interesting song that actually caused me to write to John on first listen was Vector Atmospheres which is track three on this CD. After repeated listening's I understand it now but I thought that there was some unintentional static on this track at first. John explained that it was meant to be there and that he used a Synth Patch to create it. So for the first time through just be aware that the static is meant to be where John placed it.

John has created in Eternity an album that is intimate and inviting and that is instantly engaging to the listener. John has expertly woven a musical tapestry with the songs on this CD that creates a relaxing atmosphere that caresses those listeners who delve deeply into the compositions. John's musical sensibilities have been honed to a sharp point over the last decade and now he is comfortable crafting cohesive artistic visions like you will find on his latest release. The lush landscapes that John has created on this release are very revealing of his heart and underscores his impressive skills as a musician and producer. This album is very accessible and quite an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. That presupposes that you will want to listen to it several times the way that I did hence the few hours instead of just one.

This album is due out on March 20, 2012 and you would do well to get your own copy to set out on your own journey. And of course this release is highly recommended by Ambient Visions.

~ Michael Foster - Editor, Ambient Visions


The timeless echoes of "Eternity" beckon.
***** by eTripper  (March 2012)

John Lyell's newest offering "Eternity" picks-up where his previous CD, "Dimensions" ended. This one carries you along on gentle synth-pads, that slowly undulate within the timeless echoes of "Eternity". There is a slight cadence suggesting the passage of time itself. This reflective CD; is a deeply ambient one, that quietly beckons you away from the familiar. It explores limitless vistas, and transports one to deepspace ports-of-call.

Any of these selections, would mesh well on a playlist with: Jonn Serrie, Dreams of Dying Stars, Alpha Wave Movement, Stephanie Sante, or Meg Bowles. At times, this work has an almost exotic feel to it. While at others, you achieve an almost uncanny sense of universal, deep solace.




SONIC IMMERSION   (April 2012)

Six years after his first solo album "Dimensions", Minneapolis-based -synthesist John Lyell (also known from two collaborative albums with Brent A. Reiland) brings us his long-awaited second album "Eternity", mastered by Robert Rich.

The new album, best listened to with some good headphones, proves John has made another step forward. The well-crafted and warm ambient/space music easily immerses the listener in a fascinating sonic world of highly atmospheric textural landscapes, smooth pulse structures and gently drifting soundscape pads next to a few melodic hints.

Besides some occasional minimal flavours, the 63-minute "Eternity" creates an overall dreamy, quiet and unhurried sonic canvas that aptly ties the core of the cosmic deep space experience together. Sometimes, things are set in gentle slow motion, such as on the impeccable and soothing Star Seeker or Pulse of Destiny.

All in all, "Eternity" offers some fine company for imaginary space cruising and goes very well with Mr. Lyell’s great cosmic art available through his website.

Well done, John!

~ Bert Strolenberg - SONIC IMMERSION



HYPNAGOGUE   (April 2012)

Has it really been six years since we last heard from John Lyell ?  Well, it was worth the wait. His previous disc, Dimensions, has held a favored spot in my personal collection since it came out. His latest, "Eternity", smoothly picks up where that left off, as Lyell crafts a fresh set of relaxed, spacey drifts woven through with easy melodies.

Lyell’s signature is soft bell tones, like cosmic windchimes, that collide gently and playfully across a base of breathy pads. His layers tend to run quite deep, making these pieces ideal headphone listening. Although the disc is broken up into 10 tracks–and they’re actual tracks, not just breaks in a longer flow–"Eternity" has an uninterrupted feel as one piece glides into the next. To some degree this is due to a bit of sameness of sound, but that plays into the listening experience more than it detracts from it. Lyell modulates his tracks well. The lulling drift of “Vector Atmospheres” leads into the almost Eastern-sounding tones and (comparably) upbeat rhythm of Star Seeker, which quietly deposits the listener in the deep, lush flow of Dreams of Orion. This is one of the best tracks here. Lyell’s patient construction really shines through. It displaces time and just washes the listener in waves of synthesized calm. Even his most uptempo piece, Pulse of Destiny, has that soothing effect, largely thanks to the round tones Lyell favors. There are no edges here; just smooth curves and soft, polished surfaces.

"Eternity" is a disc to leave on repeat. The easy and slight swaps in tempo, the cool consistency of tone, and the general feeling of spacey bliss is something you may not be able to get enough of. A very welcome return, and one of the most enjoyable discs I’ve heard this year.

~ John Shanahan - Hypnagogue




This CD from 2012 features 63 minutes of gentle ambient music.

Tender electronics generate pleasant tuneage of an ambient nature.

The electronics are soothing and very low key, almost crystalline in definition. Wispy tones establish an ethereal foundation which is then tempered by melodic threads of an equally ephemeral quality. The notes of lead riffs possess an elongation which makes them melt into the background textures.

Keyboards are utilized to delineate gentle chords, seasoning the flow with pacific movement. These riffs are elegant, evoking amiable sentiments as they ooze across the textural pastiche. Endearing melodies are achieved as the chords sustain and linger in their shimmering posture.

While no actual percussion is present, tenuous rhythms are infrequently created through the use of keyboard notes. In one instance, gurgling liquid sounds provide softly energized embellishment which serves as a form of propulsion.

These compositions luxuriate in a state of sparse certification. Yet for all their minimal nature, the melodies exhibit a durability that is deeply rooted in their tender resonance. Each track promotes a bewitching sense of relaxation.

This recording was digitally mastered by ambient pioneer Robert Rich.

~ Matt Howarth - Sonic Curiosity



WIND AND WIRE   (December 2012)

John Lyell may not be one of the more prolific artists in the spacemusic/ambient genres (this is his fourth album in 14 years, the first two being recorded and released with former fellow musician Brent Reiland), but he sure has honed his craft in just those few albums. Eternity, his second solo release, is even better than 2006's Dimensions, which was already quite impressive. While some artists in these two genres are able to crank out albums faster than their legions of fans can gobble them up, an artist like Lyell takes his own sweet time to get it right – and that's what he does throughout Eternity's ten tracks.

Before delving into the details of the music, I just wanted to clarify that, while I can see categorizing this as ambient music, it's because the song titles almost all reference space or astronomical images that I would personally list this as spacemusic, first and foremost, and I don't mean the broader sense of the word as Stephen Hill uses it, but the more exacting definition of spacemusic which includes seminal artists such as Geodesium and Jonn Serrie. That's not to say that ambient fans would dislike this disc – far from it. I'm merely emphasizing that this is music ideally suited for stargazing, either the real thing or simply laying back in a dark room, envisioning cruising through the cosmos.

I mention Geodesium (Mark Pedersen) and Serrie above because I think Lyell's music is the perfect hybrid of the two, without being overtly imitative of either one. Like Geodesium, Lyell uses pulses, tones, and electronic textural notes (not drums, though) to establish a rhythm, usually a slow cruising one (some of Geodesium's music is quite frenetic in comparison), and like Serrie, he wields a variety of sweeping synth pads and washes to impart a sensation of the vast reaches of space. Also, like both of the spacemusic pioneers, Lyell believes in a "friendly" and warm space. This music is seldom, if ever, dark or intimidating, but it's also never syrupy (as some of Serrie's mid-period releases were, e.g. Midsummer Century and Lumia Nights) and is very rarely energizing, unlike a larger percentage of Geodesium's uptempo tracks on any one of his CDs. Instead, Lyell opts for a mellow, subtle feeling of movement, if any at all, or else just a mild drifting sensation (e.g. on the second track, aptly titled "Eternal Drift"). There is one "peppy" track here, "Pulse of Destiny," on which fast tempo bass synth rhythms pulse under a variety of spacy synth pads amidst some tres cool, decidedly retro, sounds and effects.

What appeals the most to me about Eternity (and Dimensions, for that matter) is how relatively uncomplicated the music is; it carries no hidden agendas, no pretentions, yet it's not" simple" either in the sounds used or the manner in which Lyell layers his various synths. Another winning element is how easy it is to get into this music. From the first playing – hell, from the first track – I was captivated and couldn't wait to listen to the whole CD. Part of this is because Lyell eschews the more normally long track durations (normal for the ambient and sometimes spacemusic genres). The longest song, "Whispering Light," clocks in at just under 8 minutes, two tracks are under 5 minutes and five are in the six minute range. One might think this would lead to discontinuity of theme, but owing to how Lyell sticks to what I would describe as his "formula," just the opposite is true. Eternity is more cohesive a listening experience than some of the previously mentioned artists' recordings are, which is not meant as a knock on them.

All ten tracks on Eternity prove to be solid additions to the spacemusic canon, but I will admit a particular fondness for the following: "Eternity" and its pinging pulses, whooshing synths, and haunting keyboard melodies, the gentle percolations of "Star Seeker" with flowing cosmic synths, high-pitched sonar bleeps, and underlying quasi-vibe tones, with a base melody that perfectly captures the essence of "spaciness," and the soft sighing of somewhat mournful wafts of melody on "Dreams of Orion" blended with sparse, somber deep but warm drones and occasional twinkling star showers.

While in today's music purchasing environment of downloads (as opposed to brick and mortar stores), a CD's appearance has much less impact on drumming up potential buyer interest, Eternity is also the best looking of Lyell's previous recordings, and he made some great font and layout choices as well (if only more artists had his aptitude for that!). However, let's face it, it's still the music that matters most, and in that regard, Eternity is fantastic and, while it's a blatant cliché to state this, I consider it an essential addition to the library of any spacemusic fan. As one final inducement to pique your interest, the disc was mastered by Robert Rich at his Soundscape Studios, so you just know it's gonna sound killer on headphones.

The album is available from Amazon, iTunes, or CDBaby.


~ Bill Binkelman - Wind And Wire