Justin Walter
Unseen Forces [12-inch; Kranky]

Justin Walter’s understated gem Unseen Forces is a record that is both entirely new and otherworldly, yet after several listens is as familiar as many of my long-time favorite records. The combination of the mysterious electronic valve instrument, trumpet, and piano makes a sound that creeps into your subconscious. Ambient is often associated with background music, and while the riffs and motifs of Unseen Forces pop into my head throughout the day, I hardly hear it as background filler. The delicate chords of the title track emerge on the walk to work, while the warbled beauty of the electronic valve instrument on “It’s Not What You Think” comes to you while prepping coffee in the morning. Justin Walter’s sounds produce an association with the minute routines that make my day unique from others: I get up at six; make coffee and breakfast; read for about forty-five minutes; slog through work; go for a run or work out; prep dinner; read or watch TV with my wife; and crash between nine and ten. Since my introduction to Unseen Forces, the songs have burrowed into my brain, to the point where the record has a lived in quality, and it feels as if Justin Walter is performing solely for the activities others view as dull, day to day things, but which give meaning to how I put my days and life together.

We seek music to form a connection to the greater world around us, to make sense of the beauty, wonder, and the many, many sources of confusion and anger we see. Unseen Forces soundtracks not the mighty nor the epic, but the less romanticized aspects of life, the small moments that form the whole of an individual. It may not be the most striking on first listen, but its genius lies in its ability to form a deep relationship with each listener. It’s the perfect soundtrack for solitude.


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