Monday, March 31, 2008

Changeling - Into Great Peace (Not Not Fun CS)

I understand why most people don't still listen to cassettes. Hell, they're too fragile, the sound quality isn't exactly crisp, and skipping songs is hardly a convenience. Then again, all of those reasons could be completely legitimate ones to LIKE them too, which is why this strange cassette underworld is still around, and which is also the reason that I recently picked up a nice (and cheap) used cassette deck over at Rhino Records. Too many good labels were putting out too many nice items on cassette, and I certainly was not going to suffer because I didn't have the proper equipment. Of course it also provided the added bonus of flipping through all those old mixes I had made with my dad's LPs when I was eight. Some killer jams on those things... 4 Seasons, Ventures, Steely Dan, etc. Weird.

So when I put in this Not Not Fun order, I opted to buy my first tape in a while, taking a chance on this Changeling number. I hadn't heard too much about it, but knew it was a moniker for Roy Tatum who had played in Deep Jew and Quintana Roo, and the description on this sounded like it might be some explorative ambient stuff. Tough to pull off without sounding like new age schlock? Definitely. But come on, the guys in Deep Jew.

I'm not sure how long Into Great Peace is, but its a decently mighty slab of music compared to all those C15s and C20s making the rounds today. Two tracks, one side apiece, housed in aqua green plastic, and we're off.

Side one is entitled "Enter Tranquility," which, though perhaps a bit easy listening for my taste, does seem a perfect fit for the warm stretches of guitar ambience produced here. Layers of glittering drones are placed across each other, undulating and wavering back and forth. This is pleasantly aimless stuff, like what it must feel like to be stuck in a space shuttle, waiting to arrive on the moon for days and just floating.

Side two exhibits another entrance, this time in the form of "Enter Serenity" (there aren't any exits on this ride!). Lulling itself back and forth, it utilizes much the same technique as the previous track, sounding like the soundtrack to your enlightenment. Everything is clear as day, laid gently out in swaths of soft tones. Some of it reminds me of the most overtly beautiful moments on Brian Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, though the length allowed for these tracks allows for complete submersion into the comforting bath.

So is it new age? I confess, listening to it at first, I did have my doubts. But whereas new age is designed to be background music, Tatum has requested your attention. Much like the furniture music of the aforementioned Eno, this is material which does feel like it could exist in the background, airy whisps of clouds over translucent oceans, unbeknownst to those in the room. Yet when you choose to partake, it is all there, a subtle construction of a tranquil journey. Just listen closely to that solo on track two. Slowly Tatum, slowly.

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