Between Waves is the perfect patio-side antidote to a hectic summer day.
An album for driving in the dark, communing with your own thoughts or completely bringing down the life of the party, Between Waves is packed with dreary mood. Even the most upbeat song on the record (“Lost in the Fog”) gives way to more abstract organic drums and minimal sampling. Layer upon layer of synth is strapped down and held fast. Every song feels giant in scope and seemingly orchestral in the flawless way they are executed.
There are a lot of similarities both in terms of style and approach to the work of Felix Laband. The use of minimal but timeless synths is admirable in an era when many electronic bands are simply trying to resurrect a long dead ‘80s sound. The title track features vocals which is interesting. But even more interestingly is the fact that the horns and instrumentation are as complicated as they are low key. Jimmy LaValle, the soloist behind the production is adept at layering and pattern design.
This isn’t electronica you can dance to, and it isn’t the sort of electronica that wins hearts and minds on the radio. Here, there be dragons. Many songs are lullabies expressed at length and kept up long after the listener has been carried away to the place of dreams. Instead of simple beats and a hook repeated ad nauseum, each of the sounds on this record are almost playful in the way they keep vying harder for the world’s attention. This is dinner music for the oddly aggressive. “Synthesis” seems to tell a dramatic instrumental story while Parameters opts for the absolute coming out of her home.
The xylophone in “Ambo” is stunning and shimmering in a way normally reserved for wind chimes and lazy days on the patio. Where normally a track this epic would shut down the article, it’s worth noting that after we hit track 12, we’ve still got a few more to go. The return of Dntel is notable here among the bonus remixes. It places Deadmau5 in a time when there’s a backlash against celebrity embrace.
The album is full of staying power and is a delight to the pop music palette. Full of ghostly melody and shimmering vocal performances, it can be intimidating at first but, eventually you’re appreciating the finer notes of music for lying on the beach. It’s not abstract or inaccessible in any way and lacks the sort of pretentious throwback vibe of much of modern indie electronica. LaValle is not channeling Brian Eno or trying to be the next Crystal Method. Instead, he weaves a complex tapestry of music which starts out dark but ends up somehow hopeful.
A few years ago, Jon Hopkins put out Asleep Versions which, though far more ambient and abstract than anything going on on Between Waves, could still be considered a spiritual cousin to the album. As its name suggests, it was an effective tool for slumber parties everywhere. There’s a kinship with the two artists with respect to their shared ability to move the listener. Between Waves is the perfect patio-side antidote to a hectic summer day, and we’ve only got a few of those days left, so pick it up.