Doubtful that an album will come along this year with a more apt or literal representation of its title. This music is engineered to feel good. Which makes sense coming from a band formerly known as Pure Ecstasy. And while their distant approach (thick reverb, warm distortion) isn’t the most complex or original, it takes less than two minutes living inside opener “Heavy Air” to realize this debut wants to simply massage your mind. Lookout for an addicting strand of pop buried deep beneath what’s initially one continuous blur. It’s a phenomenon that could sneak Pleasure into obsessive listening cycles, and perhaps, year-end lists.
Brian Eno, cerebral sound crafter, accomplished producer, all around music god, is back with another full length—his second on Warp, following last year’s Small Craft on a Milk Sea, which saw him connect ambient specialty with more swirling activity. This time around, he’s gone glitch, and opened his vision up to the words of poet Rick Holland. The collaboration is present throughout, as most tracks focus on spoken word atmospherics, recruiting a spectrum of ordinary, foreign, and at times, robotic narrators. Sonically, it’s up to the level of surreal and serene that Eno fans crave. Conceptually, it’s a lot to absorb.
This Santa Barbara five-piece is attempting to deliver on the bright promise a highly blogged single. Both sides of that release showed versatility, “Black Hills” going the cool and catchy downtempo route; “Orange Blossom” bouncing along in a sunnier, Asian flute funk stride. And with the two tracks reappearing as standouts on the full length, it’s excusable that both directions be explored further elsewhere, sometimes to lukewarm results.
2009’s Seek Magic placed Philadelphia's Dayve Hawk in a growing bubble of nostalgic electronic pop—a conversation which almost overshadowed some of the more intricate production qualities and well, use of instruments, in his work. Player Piano should attract similar ears, but also effectively burst out from those confines for good. It’s a far bigger, richer effort, still in harmony with previous build-ups and bliss-outs.
To continue on above, there’s that bubble, then there’s Com Truise, a synth fetishist in a sphere all his own. Seth Haley has built an empire of aesthetic in the past year, planting tracks, mixtapes, and remixes with the golden touch, all heavily branded, both visually (credit his talents as a graphic designer) and texturally—drenched in proggy computer sci-fi and 80s aviation drama, rendering some kind of sonic boom effect on the imagination. Galactic Melt is a major label victory lap for Haley. Though judging by his ambitious pace, he’s probably already owning an entirely new event.