EL Wire Pacifier by Channel DarkEL Wire Pacifier by Channel Dark

Based in the Seattle area, Channel Dark aka Jonathan Maxwell, is an electrical engineer by day whose musical soul awakens at night as a survival mechanism against perpetual, sanity-threatening insomnia.  A classically trained pianist who also knows his way around the guitar and drums, Maxwell began playing in a variety of different live bands ranging from punk to folk 20 years ago. In 2013, Maxwell merged a growing interest in achieving inner piece and spiritual clarity with a need to manage his insomnia and so he began experimenting with electronic music. The result is Channel Dark’s ambient and atmospheric debut EP, EL Wire Pacifier, available now.

With one listen, it would be easy to consider EL Wire Pacifier a simple electronic pop EP. But there is definitely more to it than that. “Don’t Care About It” sets things off with fast paced synth and percussion work that transports you back to the 80s. It runs on all cylinders with a vocal delivery that makes you feel like you are riding atop an instrumentation wave that is bringing you somewhere, and you don’t care where. “Taller Skies” opens with a robotic enhancement to the vocals before he moves into a more traditional sounding delivery. Throughout the track, there is a floating above it all vibe that creates a certain escapism aura. But what stands out on this song is Maxwell’s piano background which allows for some impressive synth solos.

“Thunderbird” offers more of the synths, drums and piano but this is also the track where Maxwell’s vocals are most prominent. The combination of vocals and instruments creates a soaring sound that is almost anthemic. “Where the Monsters Are” has an opening that could have been used in any number of 80s television intro scenes. It sets a mysterious tone that seems to be hinting at something deeper which runs through the entire track. The drums are effective. The production is tight. The vocals are perfectly enhanced to set the feel and lyrically, it is one of the stronger songs on the EP.

Being a fan of club type music and electronic dance music in general, “Feather” is my favorite track on EL Wire Pacifier. While “Feather” is far more traditionally EDM heavy than the other tracks, it is simultaneously ethereal and uplifting doing justice by its name. The piano and synthesizer work sound like an audio ray of sun shining through surrounding storm clouds. It is strictly an instrumental track but it has the potential to sound incredible in a club with the right acoustics, as is or remixed.

EL Wire Pacifier wraps with the soothing if not outright calming “You Can Be.” There is a much more somber feel to this when compared to the rest of the release. But mid-track, this song just comes alive with the sense of hopefulness that permeates the EP with lyrics such as “You can be whoever you choose to be.”  Filled with the reassurances you need in life to be able to rest your head peacefully, put your mind at ease and get some sleep, “You Can Be” is the contemplative culmination of the EL Wire Pacifier experience.      

Falling somewhere between the trance-like vibes of Aphex Twin and the soothing ambience of Tycho, Channel Dark’s EL Wire Pacifier blends sky aspiring synths with a touch of today’s EDM to create an electronica sound that will appeal to followers of these musical styles. If this debut EP is the result of Channel Dark’s insomnia, there is reason for the rest of us to hope he continues to lack sleep. Check it out and let us know what you think!