Dr. Thompson has created music that is purely medicinal, in service of relaxation without any mysticism -- there's nothing new agey or easy listening about it. Ordinarily, you don't have to hand-tool music that will put you to sleep; any kind of music will do the job if you aren't into it. What matters is how you feel when you wake up. If your musical selection just lets your mind drift after dinner then wake up in time for Letterman, time's been wasted. But a recording thoughtfully designed to get you to sleep and to give rest is a different matter. To review such a project comes closer to consumer advice than aesthetic analysis, and so be it: this two-disc set is so effective that I haven't made it all the way through a single cut 'til the very last. The liner notes prove that the musical content is more science than art. But after the research, craft must follow, and Dr. Thompson uses plenty. In his thickly layered electronic fusion -- there are no vocals -- ambient keyboards do the work of a hypnotist's watch by focussing the ear at two or three chords per cut; NASA space recordings and natural sounds supposedly encourage a Delta sleep state. Admittedly, the last cut on disc two, "Primordial Sounds," creates an odd effect reminescent of Brian Eno's "Thursday Afternoon"; at a high volume it sounds like water storming through PVC pipes. But at a nice, low volume, every spacey effect does the job. The center of your chest relaxes a few moments into the first cut, then the space between your eyes. Then you awake, feeling pretty good. ~ John Young
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