I don't know about you, but the arrival of autumn gives CTW the chance to drink hot chocolate, kick clouds of fiery leaves into the air and don a snug duffel coat made of free ambient-ish electronica.
Hailing from Spokane in Washington state, USA, Joseph Snodgrass, otherwise known (and who can blame him?)* as The Lights Galaxia, is an ambient/electronic musician who has capered onto the CC front lawn with Global, a collection of four tracks that's more comforting than a mug of liquid caramel topped with marshmallows. Carl Sagan's ghost has helped fluff the pillows and smooth out the sounds. No, really.
We begin with Forever Arriving - any jokes about my review schedule will see your Internet Membership revoked - wherein the ambient voices and clattering of everyday life underpin drifting piano and synth chords that refuse to resolve until the final moments. By the end, there's nothing left to listen to but people in the street, time having come to a standstill. You won't be raving/head-banging/having it large/enjoying your banker's bonus to this record.
After that, it's - TA-DAH! - my recommended track, which is an adult lullaby that should appeal to fans of (Danish music astronaut) Trentemøller and (Oxfordshire studio rats) Radiohead. In While She Sleeps (Morning Edit), you'll hear gossamer-thin, intimate synths meld with other fluffy, pulsing synths, the flapping of butterfly wings, and pixies drumming on acorn shells. In other words, it's a very clever collection of layered pads combined with lightly percussive synths and just plain percussion that's panned across the stereo spectrum so as not to clog up the mix. How to describe it further? It's like bunnies kissing.The Lights Galaxia - While She Sleeps (Morning Edit)
Tokyo Metro takes two full minutes of chewy, crackly, ambient strap-hanging to get underway under the power of a brooding, surprisingly funky bassline and reverberating guitar accompaniment; it ends with an ambient tail that's long enough to return the mood of the track back to the original platform. Good stuff. The soundscape reminds me of DJ Side's low-passed, reverberating Bittersweet Love EP - which is more good stuff.
The final stop on the global tour (Mr S, you can have that dreadful pun free of charge for your promotional T-shirts) is The Last Lights In The City. The central motif is the oh-so-soulful epiano blues/jazz chords that swap so slowly that there's time for separate notes of each chord to pan from one ear to the other and back again. The steady diet is leavened with more Trentemøller-ish synth murmurings. If you're in doubt: it's gorgeous. You'll have to listen to it in the shower because if you hear it whilst having a bath you will undergo a short coma and wake up with your big toe stuck up a tap.
Global is intended to be a preview of a full concept album about the increasing urbanisation of the Earth, The Cities Global, to be released in 2010; I suggest that it wets the whistle most effectively. Please keep an eye out for the album, or at least let Joseph know you enjoyed it.
Luxus-Artica Records International (1st release!)
Hang on. Sit down. I'm not finished. As luck would have it, just as my dinosaur-like cerebral cortex was deciding to write about Global, I discovered that one of my favourite music blogs had already written about it. Hurrah, said I, for I'd been looking for an excuse to mention this music bolthole for ages:
Travis Noble's Hiddenplace Music is a calm, soothing blog that, unlike the mongrel Catching The Waves, specialises in reviewing ambient and downtempo music. Reasons to drop by: interesting, high-quality selections; authoritative, judicious reviews; a "blog news box" that collates CC releases, thus providing the curious visitor with hours of exploratory fun, and a restrained blog design courtesy of Travis's secret identity as a graphic designer. Oh, and there are six mixes of netlabel music to explore. I must mention the excellent Solipsistic Nation podcast that Travis put together in January, highlighting his pick of the best netlabel releases of 2008. I've listened to it quite a few times over the last year; its blend of chat and dreamy ambient music is so beguiling. Yes, 2008. Yes, I am that out of date. You should see my haircut.
Hiddenplace Music (gets a spot in *gasp* CTW's General Netlabel Sites category)
*I'm so naughty. Sorry, Joseph.