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Numina - Sanctuary of Dreams



2004. The first release on Hypnos by this up-and-coming ambient artist based in Colorado. Numina, real name Jesse Sola, arrived on the scene following a handful of self-released albums and quickly rose to become one of the most popular new faces in electronic ambient music.

Track list with MP3 samples:
Awaken Within A Deeper Realm
Lost on Silica Ridge
Elements of Time
In Loneliness, the Landscape Fades
Beneath the Silver Surface
Thrown Into Oblivion
Fractured Eyes
Dream Recognition
Lucid Ascension (feat. Tara Vanflower)
The Waking Breath


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Reviews

"SANCTUARY OF DREAMS (73'14") by Numina (a.k.a. Jesse Sola) comes from the same spark as many other soundworld realizations in the field of Spacemusic. Through the subtle manipulation of deep drones, sub-sonic swells, metallic sonorities and the slow spiraling of contrasting chords, Numina provides the listener with a wondrous sonic sanctuary in which to reflect upon their own inner workings. Throughout his music we find an artist trying to identify his relationship with the scale of his work, and the relationship of this work to the environment. The material on SANCTUARY OF DREAMS guides the form in which Numina is working. The 10 tracks are each a storm of color and sound, less representative of the chaos of the unconscious mind than of the enigmatic and ominous world of dreams . . . visions beyond cognition."
--Chuck VanZyl, Star's End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia

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"Jesse Sola records as Numina. Sanctuary of Dreams, his first release on a major label (Hypnos Recordings), might be his best effort yet. In the past, his CDs have leaned to the darker sides of ambience. While this disc does have some ominous tones, the overall timbres are gentle and soothing. Sola's style allows the uplifting chords to be the overriding persona of this CD. He combines organic textures with languid atmospheres to create warm and friendly soundscapes. This disc is a friend. It will appeal to fans of Jeff Pearce, Remco Helbers, Markus Reuter, and Zero Ohms."
--All Music Guide, reviewed by Jim Brenholts

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"Having met Jesse when he came to Portland for a Steve Roach concert, I can honestly say he is as nice as he is talented. Though my opinion of him as a person may make me somewhat biased, I’d challenge anyone not to rate this CD highly if you favor organic ambience the likes of Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Robert Scott Thompson, Alio Die, and other major players in the genre. This is dark, cool floating music, similar in mood to parts of Steve’s epic masterpiece Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces.

“Elements of Time” is a good representation of what’s to be had here – slow, swirling ambience that is alive and breathing, dark without being depressing or creepy. Hints of melody are suggested, occasionally coalescing into corporeal form but usually satisfied to roam as a spectre. But then, what would you expect with titles like “Thrown Into Oblivion”? Low rumbling drones in “Fractured Eyes” and “The Waking Breath” give a vague hint of rhythm that is noticeably absent throughout much of the proceedings.

Sanctuary of Dreams is all about floating through space."
--2005. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space

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"While you will never hear a dark-ambient artist on top-forty radio, it is a genre that is growing. Jesse Sola (AKA) Numina is certainly not a new face, though. It's obvious in one intent listen. His arrangements, though seemingly simple and soothing, are actually subtle and complex, filled with a sense of both wonder and sadness.

Among the synth pads and strings that are part of the genre are washes of monks voices, the occasional shaker and incidental percussion, and even the voice of Lycia's Tara Vanflower "Lucid Ascension". "Beneath the Silver Surface" brings to mind the early work of Vangelis with analog synth treatments."

This is a beautiful CD. While not as subtle or dark as Raison d'Etre or as structured as Steve Roach, it finds its niche somewhere between."
--Don Hill, Cornerstone and Automata magazines

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"Jesse Sola prolifically plumbs the depths of dark, opaque ambience recording under the Numina moniker. This Denver, Colorado artist is coming to greater prominence with each release as his skill and talent are honed more deeply. Numina's latest, Sanctuary of Dreams, is perhaps his most mature and fully-realized ambient work so far. Touching only lightly upon the dark and claustrophobic terrains of past work, Sola chooses instead to refine his latest music with a more dynamic range of sounds, all reverent and melancholy in tone--like a sad dream. The world of Sanctuary of Dreams is a darkened one; the Sanctuary itself offering the only solace within a largely ambivalent and chaotic environs. The music here is infused with sorrow and regret, as if one finds an uneasy catharsis through dreaming and escape.

Fans of VidnaObmana's breathing synth work on Ending Mirage will find a familiar terrain in Sanctuary's first track "Awaken Within a Deeper Realm". There's a gothic mood here, as if one is within a dreamed sunken cathedral as softly pulsing synth textures and lightly symphonic tones create interlocking lines of sound in the mind's eye. "Lost on Silica Ridge" combines some of the nicely rendered electronic percussives of Numina's recent collaboration with Ixohoxi alongside church organ and Obmana synth clouds. "Elements of Time" darkens the mood with processed shakers and claustrophobic, manipulated belltones. "In Loneliness, the Landscape Fades" is also deeply reminiscent of VidnaObmana, bordering on pastiche. Synth tones glide lightly like a fogged valley--Sola's synthwork is never static, making an ever-shifting tonescape that seems self-satisfied with its own melancholy mien. "Beneath the Silver Surface" is far more interesting--a subtle and mysterious elixir of strange wooden noises, resonant, lancing synth effects and piano textures. Eventually, a wonderful gonging bell brings us back to gothic zones; a fantastic, dramatic effect. There is indeed a lot going on here underneath the surface--Sola seems stronger on tracks that operate in darker territories. To illustrate this point, the next track, "Thrown Into Oblivion", treads darkly with chorals and stratospheric synth drones spiraling together ever-downward. A lovely moment. Also impressive is "Fractured Eyes" which artfully manages to digest the VidnaObmana influence by combining it with strange, echoed, synth-waveforms. "Dream Recognition (Silhouette of the Past)" is perhaps the highlight of the disc--a soft Bill Nelson-esque dronescape that vibrates and cascades prettily, punctuated by echoed synth-piano notes chiming distantly. Memorable work, well suited to the repeat button. Next is "Lucid Ascension" featuring the vocalizations of Tara VanFlower (from goth-pop group Lycia). It's another pretty track, the vocals adding to the charm immensely--for those who tend to dream about ethereal undersea beauties: you've just found your soundtrack. Finally, "The Waking Breath" clearly ends the dream with a dismissal of the opalescent soundscaping of earlier tracks. Perhaps I'm "reading" too much into this, but a drone track like this after such a romantic and wistful album can only signal a return to the daily grind of activity most mundane. That said, this is a fine, lengthy track--one in a style I'd like to hear more of from Numina--understated, droning, environmental.

Sanctuary of Dreams marks an intriguing high-point in Numina's development as an ambient practitioner. Certainly, we find no artistic vanguard here, as Sola traverses oft-visited sonic landscapes. In fact, Sola's influences tend to take the driver's seat on the first half of the album. The second half, however, is uniquely Sola's own. What we find in total is a satisfying album of well-rendered sonic dream impressions that often achieves more than the sum of its parts. It's almost as though, during the course of the tracks, the Numina-style made itself evident to the artist--this is an imagined impression, since the tracks are not arranged chronologically. I'm duly impressed with Numina's debut--it signals that Sola's best work is ahead of him. Sanctuary of Dreams seems likely to be regarded as an artistic turning point for Numina's brand of memorably melancholy ambience."
-- Brian Bienowski / The Ambient review

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"Numina is the creation of Jesse Sola, a remarkably consistent artist who has released several excellent albums. This album,his first on the distinguised Hypnos label,continues his elegant sound and takes it even further. Contained within an intriguing cover there are ten tracks of darker,flowing, deep ambient music. Jesse uses synthesizer,guitars,vocals and processing to create his potent and mystical soundscapes.

Here some highlights: Track 1,"Awaken Within A Deeper Dream" is a floating,swirling piece that sets the tone for the journey. Next is "Lost On Silica Ridge",with an epic, almost orchestral sound and some stately percussion. "Elements Of Time" follows, with smooth liquid flows and jewel like tones. After that is "In Loneliness The Landscape Fades", where a contemplative mood takes over in a slowly tumbling dreamscape. Track 5,"Beneath The Silver Surface" continues the dreamlike state with layers of synth and a watery background. "Thrown Into Oblivion" comes next, with magnificent synths and a divine interplay of treated voice and sustained drones. Track 7 is "Fractured Eyes",with droning swirling sounds and buried vocals. "Dream Recognition [Silhouette Of The Past] is next with a delicate far-off flute like melody over a long,sustained background. Tara Vanflower contributes lovely vocal samples on the ninth track "Lucid Ascension",an ethereal ocean of sleep ebbing and flowing. Distant bell-like sounds slowly fade into the last track,"The Waking Breath". As drones descend and increase in intensity,memories of the dreamworld linger and rustle as the adventure ends.

This release marks the arrival of Numina on an even higher level. It's an essential work with superb timing and flow. Sound quality and production are outstanding, with mastering by Hypnos label owner Mike Griffin.This is a seamless masterpiece where spiritual feelings abound. Step out into the night with your headphones on, look into the sky and contemplate your place in the universe." Sound samples at Numina site:
http://users.frii.com/numina/ Hypnos label site: www.hypnos.com
Dodds Wiley of Ambient.us

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"This is the latest album release by one Jesse Sola who goes under the name of Numina.

Sanctuary Of Dreams sees this prolific musician gain a major foothold up in the ambient music world with this new and interesting release.

Music should always entice me to listen from hearing the first sounds from a new album and the first track exactly does this. "Awaken Within A Deeper Dream" sets the scene so to speak; gentle and serene with a touch of the mysterious, this track with its slowly evolving electronics perfectly introduces the album.

"Lost On Silica Ridge" starts with a quiet ringing tone before faint choir like effects gently enter the mix before a faraway percussive sequence enters the flow of this track.

Following on is "Elements Of Time" and this features more quiet atmospherics interspersed with tones that sound bell like that may have come from a Buddhist monastery. The music follows in an almost melancholy way slightly sad but with a charming tale to tell the listener. "In Loneliness The Landscape Fades" features similar themes, enticing flowing synth lines that merge with strange exotic sounds unearthed from who knows where. Whilst listening to this album I was made aware that this music with its synthesizers, treated vocals, guitars, etc. was very much the perfect ambient album.

This would be the album I would play to someone who had not heard the term ambient, energizing sounds that intrigued as well as relaxed, production that is first rate and playing technique that is up there with the more well known ambient artists such as Vidna Obmana, and Steve Roach. With this new album Numina should become better known and gain some new converts to his brand of ambient music."
-- Gary Andrews / Ambient Visions

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"The delays around Sanctuary of Dreams are well documented at the Hypnos forum. Jesse Sola, a.k.a. Numina, has had the grace, charm, style, panache and decorum to take it all in stride and to participate in the humor. That is all fun but this disc is serious space music at a level that very few achieve. WOW! From the opening notes to the last sounds, this disc says something special! Jesse does it with no fanfare surrounding his deep atmospheres and sedate drones. Despite all the teasing, this CD is exactly on time! E-music is entering a Golden Age and it is entirely appropriate nay, necessary - to have Jesse and this CD right there with the other standard bearers of the community! The music is, as the title implies, dreamy. Deep and focused listeners will enter the sanctuary of their innermost souls. It is a safe haven from the ills and troubles of the new millennium, albeit only a brief rest stop on the highway of life. As each listener has his/her own meditation rituals and practices, the responses are the individuals responses. This awesome CD stamps Jesses entry into the perpendicular universe and validates his parking! It is essential and has been worth the wait!"
-- Jim Brenholts