A 73:39 long-form piece with 12 seamless tracks
Every remarkable sound on the 70+ minute continuous piece is sourced by his voice. Quiet, calming, and meditative; deeply textured and sublime. Achingly poignant.
~ Bill Beck, Spacemusic group list
Emotionally charged, meditative and just beautiful. Also the pace of the album is just perfect, moving from dense to open space with just the right amount of beauty, tension and emotion.
....While each cut on the disc has a separate mood or tone, The Way Beyond must be considered as a massive, undulating, living, breathing ambient zone of stillness and, unusually, simultaneous constant change and transition. While the basis of this recording is layered drones comprised solely from Cole's harmonic singing, these layers are overlapped with constantly changing sonic waves and patterns which create the feeling of watching a rushing brook; all motion and churning fluid on top, but a deep, peaceful stillness beneath.
....At around track nine, for example, the deep tones of Cole's voice expand and contract in an almost psychedelic flux, as if one is buffeted upon solar winds....This is inner space music in the highest sense of the term. Cole's seemingly plaintive cries strike as melancholy in track ten, but they are at the same time hopeful.
....Jim Cole, armed with only looped drones created from his own voice, has somehow unlocked a secret place within just by creating music....This wordless music, without connotation, has the power to unearth nameless spiritual delight within. There is no question--The Way Beyond is holy music, no matter what your persuasion--it is ageless, and always a valid and enriching experience. As with Godspace (and I believe that The Way Beyond surpasses its predecessor in terms of breadth and sonic diversity from the same essential sound sources), I find the music herein to be unquestionably one of the finest ambient/atmospheric releases of 2003. This is the kind of music that reminds of why one became an appreciator of the genre in the first place--it makes you feel good, larger than yourself, and, most of all, connected to the artist and music in some way that is difficult to describe with words that always seem clumsy by comparison. This disc goes “way beyond” Godspace, and that's really saying something. The Way Beyond gets my highest recommendation: it's paradigm shattering work by one of the brightest lights in today's ambient scene.
~Brian Bieniowski, The Ambient Review
...The recording is drenched in reverb, which adds to the sensation of vastness that the listener feels. As the music expands, Cole sustains tones longer and begins to slide around the notes to nice effect. Gradually, as the music continues, Cole takes us to spaces not normally visited by conventional means. He is able to produce fugal or contrapuntal improvisations that sound very modal and harmonious yet completely different from normal western harmony. As a result, the music seems to transport us to a shimmering, yet stable place. Meanwhile, the drones over which he is improvising continue to shift and build, a very orchestral effect. At times they fade or even disappear completely, always to return to great effect.
~ Mark Morton, Ambient Visions
Jim employs a stunning array of sounds, such as walls of synthesizers, didgeridoo, flutes, accordion, cello, vocal choirs, and many heavenly sounds the listener has never heard before. The amazing thing is all of these sounds are performed...with only his voice, using reverb and looping, "live on the fly"! He has collaborated and worked with Alpha Wave Movement, Vidna Obmana, Steve Roach, Mathias Grassow and more, plus several solo albums and releases with groups Spectral Voices and Leland Burr. His signature sound uses harmonic overtone singing and subfundamental chant to create a distinctive and spiritual listening experience.
....There are deep drones and soaring, sustained notes that conjure up primal feelings of wonder and awe. Careful listening will reveal fascinating textures in these beatless landscapes. Tens of thousands of years of metaphysical experience are contained in this timeless work....The performances are spellbinding and the sound quality is excellent. This is music that enriches and replenishes the spirit. A must for any ambient or space music collection, this is a great disc for meditation, contemplation, yoga or inner journeys!
~ Dodds Wiley, Ambient.us
Imagine a very beautiful and haunting sound, filled with voices and echoes overlaying and blending, bending, growing and decaying, drifting freely in some inner or outer space, and one might have some insight as to where Godspace and The Way Beyond are musically situated. This is spiritual ambient drone music of the highest order....he is able to create these intensely beautiful and mystifying sonic edifices that are at once hypnotic, soothing and transcendent...
~ Peter Thelen, Exposé