Town and Country Up Above

[Thrill Jockey; 2006]

Styles: minimalist ambient, improvisational music
Others: Jim O’Rourke, Rachels, Tortoise

First impressions of Town and Country: No words. Shambley love music. Some violins. Probably some other stringed instruments. A little like The Books if they dropped the samples and just went straight for the acoustic set. Plenty of drone: sounds like a slightly less obsessive-compulsive Terry Riley. Also definitely some eastern music in there. Some John Fahey, but he always shows up when you least expect it. And there are vocals now, but still no words, and maybe that is actually just an instrument that sounds like a human voice, like a Brazilian music-box.

More notes: "Bee Call" really does sound like a swarm of bees, even though I think it just kind of plunks along for one minute and forty-two seconds without going anywhere, like your kid brother with that guitar you gave him. And "King of Portugal" has a strained intensity to it and a wonderful rising pattern and voice overtone. "Blue Lotus Feet" sounds dangerous, like you could cut yourself on it. "Cloud Seeding" has a nice loping bassline and jingle-jangle walking rhythm to match. Everyone here seems to be having a good time, but they also seem to be concentrating on playing their music. Nothing is too long either; they know how to keep moving forward. And I definitely hear a voice now, and not an instrument.

Final thoughts: It feels incumbent to mention that this music was obviously recorded live, probably in one sitting, or one day. Therefore, we can forgive some of its sameness and some of its carefree attitude. In fact, this whole album kind of has a kid-brother, anything-goes feel. I think that you will like it if you never get too worried about who is making this music, or why. On the other hand, if you put it on in the car, people aren't even going to fall asleep to it; it's so unassuming. Ambient music can be something that you listen to while doing something else, or it can be its own listening experience. Regardless, this music makes its own listener. If you like it, you are probably already used to this kind of thing. With minimalism, especially of this improvised sort, if you don't like it, give it another listen; and if you still don't like it, ok.

1. Sun Trolley
2. Fields & Parks Of Easy Access
3. Phoney Fuckin' Mountain
4. Bee Call
5. Cloud Seeding
6. Blue Lotus Feel
7. King Of Portugal
8. Belle Isle
9. Almost At White Glass & Sun
10. Up Above

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