I keep getting the opening chords of this album stuck in my head, almost as if it were a pop record. Which it is, sort of, if you can imagine pop reconfigured as a vapour trail of tones interleaved with rhythmic twitches. You can? Well there’s an opening track to satisfy you in ‘we ate everyone’, which dovetails from a drum roll going nowhere (nicely) into a rich layering of sustained notes and a subliminal bass rumble. Is that a phone ringing in the background or just the trilling of a processed guitar? If I was Brian Eno I’d describe it as “Magenta. Strawberry crush at the edges.”
By track four, ‘oho’, the muted feedback and laptop glimmers have coalesced – via a mini-thunderstorm and a sprinkle of bird call – into an insistent drum beat, and two tracks on, ‘tropes’, a pulse emerges again, as if the rhythm were a mountain range that momentarily dipped beneath the ocean and then reappeared. Hello! This time it rests on implication, a soft kick drum wreathed by electronic clips and an aurora of sweet, high notes.
I love the way that this album is purposeful without being obvious, standing back to let particular atmospheres unfurl, as on ‘memory lust’, a track that forms a perfect sonic analogy for the elasticity of time. Tones stutter and rise, then stretch back. It’s like the surface of an old photograph: sun spots, bleached out details, that plastic coating keeping the paper together. Cyan, fading to the colour of an autumn morning.
Yes, this type of processed, melodic improv has been done before, but rarely so well, with such acute sense of space and timing. All the best influences are traced through it; hints of Fennesz, mÃºm, Seaworthy, Boards Of Canada. But Melbourne pair Jon Tjhia and Alex Nosek hold their own. Landlakes is one one of the best records I’ve heard in quite some time.