If the title of ACR’s second compilation album is meant to signal an openness to mass appeal, someone forget to tell Foundling, contributor of track #1.
“Half Light Soap,” featured on the BADD PRESS podcast on Aug. 13, is a punishing, squealing noise piece that stretches more than five and a half minutes. It is not a bad work by any means; in fact, it’s an effective, intricately produced piece of audio art.
It won’t encourage casual ambient music listeners to give this more challenging collection a try. And that is precisely the point. ACR has never been a label on the lookout for opportunities to compromise. Since its first release – Vol. 1 of the Aloof series in January – the London-based imprint has delivered a solid, varied collection of challenging music.
Theydon Boys’ “Menuet” follows Foundling’s opener. While less grating, it’s every bit as compelling. Heavily reverbed vocals compete for our attention with quiet white noise, electric guitar doodles and beautiful distorted analog synth. If Stranger Things were in David Lynch’s hands, this would close the first episode.
“Seamless,” by TMRPOE (also previously featured on BADD PRESS) is the album’s first easy listen. Airy synth lines, waves crashing against the beach, it’s all very chill. Gradually though, other more aggressive sounds enter the peaceful picture. The piece builds gradually to an impressively intense extended crescendo.
CJ Mirra’s “Instnt” mixes gentle and harsh sounds in a similar fashion. It’s a spacious, composition that deserves more than the four minutes of airtime this format allows it. In a couple of respects, the track speaks for the entire project. It will appeal to fans of both easy and difficult electronic music. And it will leave you wanting to hear more.