September 21st 2021
Acclaimed UK experimental ambient musician Dylan Henner rejoins his first label Phantom Limb for brand new EP Amtracks, a beautifully hypnotic wordless loveletter to a train journey through rural Pennsylvania.
Amtracks - named after the longstanding US train service Amtrak - is the story of a train journey taken by Henner some years ago. As a twenty year old, visiting Philadelphia for the first time, Henner also decided to take in Pittsburgh - a place his father had visited years earlier. Like his dad, Henner boarded Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian train service in Philadelphia to travel across the state. The Pennsylvanian traverses some of America’s most beautiful terrain, through lush forests and blissful pasture land, up a steep gradient to cross the Allegheny Mountains. Though years have passed, Henner recounts the journey with great affection. And as Henner’s usual starting points for writing and producing music are the field recordings taken on his day-job travels as a photographer’s assistant, the pandemic-enforced dearth of trips have inspired a new approach: memory-traveling.
Much of the EP centres on Henner’s preferred instrumentation - marimba, analogue synthesis and his now-trademark “digital choral” music - but here he also adds gamelan bells, piano and MIDI-woodwinds to tell a story of voyage, discovery, contemplation and awe.
“Humans have been traversing this route for millenia,” Henner writes. “The indigenous peoples of North America, including the Seneca and the Leni Lenape, had established the route long before Europeans did. A journey like this is a fascinating reminder of how tiny we are; of how huge and real nature is and how little it changes even when generations of mankind pass through it.”