My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Island Vibe MP3

You come for the landscape, you stay for the rhythms. More specifically, you head over to David Last‘s webpage (somnaut.com) and download his “Landscape” MP3, a survey of grounded atmospheres that’s far more spacious than its 3:10 running time suggests. The track starts like an expansively hopeful, downright beatific organ solo, but halfway through the tone darkens suddenly. The piece hovers in that shadow territory briefly, but before you know it, Last has worked his way back up to something not unlike the track’s opening; to “Landscape”‘s compositional credit, that taint of gloom is retained.

And while you’re at it, dip into Last’s more beat-oriented material: “Chiki” has a dancehall flavor, albeit tempered with a techno-totalitarian thump, plus an automated cackle that’s somewhere between Lil Jon and Flava Flav. “Secret Society” has a Caribbean vibe, with a kettle drum melody, and its own unwitting rap cameo: that’s very likely Missy Elliott intoning, and her presence emphasizes the Timbaland-ness of Last’s productions, how they employ scratchy sample cut’n’play in a splendid studio vacuum. (We could use more ambient-leaning musicians with a taste for Timbaland.) “Springset” opts for a talking drum. “Push Pull” adopts a Middle Eastern feel; it’s amazing how well backward masking and modal musics go together — perhaps there’s an inherent compatibility, perhaps they both just bring to mind George Harrison. Download ’em all at somnaut.com/listen.html. Last is a well-traveled downtempo musician and visual artist who has worked with Alex Patterson (The Orb), Colin Newman (Wire), Malka Spigel and Hahn Rowe, among others.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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