Have your musical tastes left you unable to interact with your family? Do people tell you that it sounds like you just strung together an unintelligible series of words when you describe what genre of music you’re listening to? Do you need a really, really chill deep house album composed on various FM synths by one of the best musicians in our circles who thinks he can hide by using a pen name? Then congrats, because ‘Coastal Breese’ by Local T under the new Pen Name label is exactly what you need to kick your warmer months off right.
Tom Sherlock, better known as Henry Homesweet, 2A0X or a dozen other aliases has been releasing new music under the Pen Name label now every other month or so this year. Each of these releases so far has been somewhat of a departure from his normal upbeat dancey style, focusing on more ambient, long form mixes. ‘Coastal Breeze,’ however, lands somewhere inbetween, as each of these seven tracks (or eight, if you’re one of us lucky 30 who got the cassette) blends calm beats with steady percussion and methodical, predictable loops. This is not an album that asks you to do a lot of mental gymnastics to appreciate it. This is not this year’s fifty-seven minute prog mega album that will send you into a Venture Brothers-esque spirit journey. What it is is a half hour of pure, distilled relaxation presented in an easily consumable package. Kick back and relax, my dudes.
What better way to start off an album that advertises itself as being full of FM synth jams as with those clear synthesized bell tones that are so emblematic of those synths as a whole? This one’s got some stuff going on deep down in the bass, so I’d recommend some good headphones, or, better yet, a very bass-y waterproof Bluetooth speaker so you can bump this at the pool like God intended.
If there’s one thing I love more than tight percussion it’s synthesized brass. As a brass player myself, I’ve always been fascinated with artificial brass voicing, and ‘What Ya Doin’ makes very good use of some very stacatto faux trumpet as well as some interesting use of echoey releases as a counterpoint. Aurally, it’s an interesting point-counterpoint that makes it feel like the song is fading away from you as you listen to it while still staying at the same auditory intensity.
‘Suffolk Riviera’ has one of the most complicated percussion parts of the entire album which immediately makes it stand out. As most of the tracks on the album are just a series of loops all the way down, this one sticking out both as a more melodic piece and the varied drums make for a very nice wake-up call in an otherwise pensive experience.
I don’t want to color your own experiences with this album too much by going into the nitty gritty on every track. Clocking in at just south of a half an hour, this is basically an ice cream cone for your ears – a quick, tasty treat that won’t leave you overwhelmed and groggy but is a nice once-in-a-while diversion to share with your friends. And hey, if you’re in the UK, why not pop down to Felixstowe and take a walk down the streets that so clearly inspired this album? Maybe grab some Peter’s Ice Cream and take a walk down the pier and see the sights?