Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Elsewhere has had such a long love affair with the restful and imaginative qualities of intelligent ambient music that we hesitate to mention just how long . . . but there are articles about Brian Eno's definitive statements in the Seventies here and as recently as here, just four months ago.
And we reference much more “ambient” music elsewhere.
But we accept that – like “psychedelic” – the definition of “ambient” has become increasingly slippery and malleable. At some end of the spectrum it can be clinical and impersonal despite its best intentions.
And actually quite easy to effect. That way massage music lies.
So we hesitate to use “ambient” about this truly lovely album by Auckland composer/producer Levi Patel lest we taint it with that description.
Because here Patel presents a casebook of slightly astral, celestial drifting and refined pieces which hit that Eno midpoint of his definition of ambient music (music as enjoyable as it is ignorable) but which default to the former.
This is not just enjoyable for its gravity-defying qualities but transcends most ambience by its (mostly) audibly invisible incorporation of live instruments (the gorgeous Closely Kept) alongside familiar electronically generated aspects.
It delivers music which is at once pastorally romantic/Romantic (For Other Days) but also offers the cachet of quiet reflection, astute minimalist repetition (Since Quiet Letters which puts me in mind of the original Gavin Bryars recording of The Sinking of the Titanic) and . . . more.
Soundtracks have already beckoned (see the very moving clip below) but this album presents something much more intimate than that collective experience.
Affinity has a soft pulse, an adult melancholy in places and such an open and comforting heart it deserves a place near every fireside and in every front parlour (it's the strings, you see, and the piano on What Will Become Of Us).
And beside every CD player in the lounge for a long wine-night of reflection, comfort and closeness.
This really is quite something.
And something more than “ambient”.
Take your time on the track posted here. Its title says it all, if you stop and think. Or, if you can do the more rare thing, to stop to not think.