I am always fascinated by the mystery of liminal space (from the Latin word limen, meaning “threshold”), that fleeting yet eternal place of opening into another reality. Frequently, the solitude of nature provides a doorway into liminal space, a territory between the worlds which can feel intensely private yet vast. These experiences often feel a bit extraordinary, even numinous. Witnessing the gleam of early morning light flowing like a line of gold down the trees, listening to the hushed stillness of the wind over the lake, bidding farewell to the slow peeling away of blue twilight as a canopy of stars is revealed overhead, are just a few of those moments of pure grace, where one can suddenly become transported into a greater, deeper reality that exists parallel to, yet outside of, ordinary awareness.
A number of images seemed to accompany the writing of these pieces, eventually becoming the inspiration for the track titles. A constant presence throughout this project was the perception of a subtle luminosity - a quiet light - that inhabits all things.
by John Shanahan, Hypnagogue (July 5, 2011)
"Seductively graceful and contemplatively hushed, Meg Bowles’ return to music, A Quiet Light, is a classic spacemusic disc that’s extremely easy to get completely lost in. In her liner notes, Bowles talks about the concept of liminal space, “a territory between the worlds which can feel intensely private yet vast.” A Quiet Light becomes the key to that territory, like gates easing open in front of you as you listen. It’s a deep relaxation disc, but it has passages that percolate with subtle energy–like the delightful, unexpected moment when the opener, “Nocturnal Flight,” suddenly shifts from gossamer drifts to rise just slightly under a cool, upbeat melody. In every track, Bowles’ long, soft pads absolutely teem with emotional phrasing, and her atmospheric touches, like the stream running under “Forest Glade,” are laid in with a perfected mastery to elevate the overall effect. Bowles is at her best here with “Chant for A Liquid World.” This is, quite simply, a stunning track that heads directly to your soul. With sacred-music overtones provided by sampled voices and a breath-slowing pace, this prayer in sonic form is, for me, the centerpiece of the disc. It eases into the horizon’s-edge feel of “Beyond the Far Shore.” Sighing chords and a gently played melody dance quietly together and the overall feel is like watching the onset of twilight.
The six tracks here glide by in exactly one hour, and it is a perfect hour of listening. Bowles knows how to pull at your emotions with sound, and she spends the time guiding you through her ideas and intentions. You will feel every note here. I genuinely cannot say enough about this disc. Calm, beautiful and superbly affecting, A Quiet Light is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD." -John Shanahan
by Bill Binkelman, ZoneMusicReporter (August 14,2011):
A Quiet Light
"After way too long an absence from the ambient music scene (her last release was 1999's brilliant From the Dark Earth), Meg Bowles has made her triumphant return with A Quiet Light, and she has not missed a beat. If anything, her time away seems to have sharpened her focus and increased her ambient and spacemusic chops. A Quiet Light is an excellent album and heralds Bowles reemergence into well-deserved prominence as not only one of the few women recording and releasing ambient and spacemusic but as a major player in the arena as well. Fans of her last two releases, Blue Cosmos and the aforementioned From the Dark Earth will recognize some of Bowles' signature touches scattered throughout the six tracks on A Quiet Light but there are plenty of new wrinkles here as well.
The CD is superbly engineered by the artist's husband, Richard Price, who also co-produced the album. The sound is sumptuous yet subtle, full of nuance if listened to intently on headphones; but the CD is equally enjoyable (as all good ambient should be) played in the background during quiet times of relaxation or contemplation.
Bowles drew inspiration for the music on A Quiet Light from her fascination for "liminal space" which, for example, is typified by the threshold we cross as day becomes night and light changes our perceptions of our surroundings. She refers to these times as "...moments of pure grace, where one can suddenly become transported into a greater, deeper reality that exists parallel to, yet outside of, ordinary awareness."
Track titles paint an accurate picture of the music contained on the CD: "Nocturnal Flight," "Forest Glade," "Beyond the Far Shore," and "A Quiet Light," to name four of the six selections. The mood is equal parts serene and mysterious, haunting but not dark or foreboding except in the subtlest ways. To say the music has a fluid quality is understating the case, as Bowles’ synth washes, pads, and chords seem to flow and ebb with an almost organic sensibility.
The opening Nocturnal Flight opens with expansive synthesizer textures flowing into each other and breaking apart (sampled overtone vocals are understated). Sparse bass notes provide counterpoint to the sustained tones and warm drones/washes. Very slowly over the twelve-minute track, the bass notes begin to accelerate in tempo until a distinct midtempo beat is achieved, accented by a series of bell tones, while the main synth melody begins to attain a more specific sensation of flight and soaring, hence the cut's title, obviously. Glacial Dawn, which is next, also merits its title as the drones and textures evoke barely any movement whatsoever as well as containing a perceptible element of "cold (despite the presence of some synth chorals in amidst the assorted other sounds). A crescendo effect at the six-minute mark seems to convey the moment the sun finally appears in full above the icy blueness of the glacier. Forest Glade opens with music that may evoke emerging from an arboreal landscape into a clearing. The subtle enhancement of the introduction of what sounds like running water, accompanied by gentle organ-like tones, paints the track with an especially lovely pastoral calmness. As with “Nocturnal Flight,” after about four minutes, Bowles introduces an overt rhythmic element, this time a series of sequenced notes, laid over the lone and forlorn sounding lead synth line (which has a strong horn-like characteristic). “Chant for a Liquid World” introduces fuller synth chorals and even a solo vocal line, sung in a distinctly church-like fashion. These angelic voices are counterpointed at the outset by an assortment of burbling sounds which eventually dissipate and are replaced by overlapping synthesizer tones, washes and textures.
I could continue describing the remaining two tracks (Beyond the Far Shore and A Quiet Light) but by now you should have an accurate picture of what the album holds in store. Bowles excels at crafting long ambient pieces (the shortest selection is 8:22) that evolve over their running course, but in such gradual ways that, while the changes are perceptible, they are never in the least bit jarring. Her juggling of the various layered synthesizers is formidable and displays her supreme artistry. A Quiet Light heralds Meg Bowles return to prominence in ambient and, in particular, the subgenre of classic-era spacemusic. I frankly can’t think of a more essential album to buy this year than this one." -Bill Binkelman; Rating: Excellent