A Lullaby for Strange Times
There are a few constants in this world: death, taxes, and the fact that Odd Nosdam will release an album that will put people to sleep. It should be noted that, while that may sound like an insult, it is nothing of the sort. As a general rule, the world could use more sleep inducing albums, records like Cornelius’ Mellow Waves and Masayoshi Fujita’s Stories are some of the most compelling pieces of music to be released within the past decade regardless of their penchant for pulling down eyelids. LIF has many similar qualities to the aforementioned albums but relies more on soft, slow string tones and a faint static wash to lull listeners into a state of total relaxation.
It seems strange to even attempt to discuss the songs as individual parts on this record. Each track is married to another in such a way that they become totally inseparable. Listening to this album on shuffle is bound to be a trainwreck, and putting individual tracks in a playlist could only lead to disaster. Regardless, there are some standout offerings in tracks like “KEL I,” “KEL II” and “TRO.” Each track on the record takes a single musical progression and then explores its soft edges. Both “KEL” tracks for instance focus on a single chord progression from an electric guitar that is overlaid with an incredibly delicate static note that lingers in the background like a dusty vinyl or a cassette that is nearing the end of its usefulness. The wash helps make each track relaxing by adding an element of nostalgia within them, that analog sound of fuzz softly tucks the listener in beneath the sound of a light rainfall. In fact the static is extremely similar to that found on records by Jasper TX on Singing Stones or even Duane Pitre’s Bayou Electric and provide a layer of organic sound that is far more comforting than that of any acoustic guitar.
Though for all the loveliness of this record, it is not without small flaws. Each track, as a result of their construction does suffer from repetitiveness to some degree. When doing another task with this record in the background listeners will happily flit in and out of focused listening, picking up on standout moments of the tracks or letting their relaxing tones lull them into a peaceful state while they read a book or enjoy an afternoon walk. The issue of repetition presents itself when one attempts to listen with extreme focus. The chord progressions typically don’t evolve much, and even the changing synth tones in the background are ambient in nature. A well-trained listener should be able to glean enjoyment from it on a close listen, but the general pacing will likely dull most into performing another task while it drones on in the background.
Outside of pedantic flaws, this record is gorgeous, and one of the more notable releases of the year. Whether looking to fall asleep or just soundtrack a delightful walk through a forest, listeners will find the album engaging, but not distracting, offering a complete escape from the madness of day to day life by replacing chaos with order and violence with peace. Records like LIF rarely feel important in the grand scheme of things, but in an ever changing world it is important that works like LIF fill a space where it is okay to sit, close your eyes, and simply drift away.