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aaron martin - Almond
It's nice to see a certain progression in the way bedroom music has tumbled over the last few years. From the instant gratification of technological advance which manifested itself in the somewhat irksome IDM explosion, the world has moved on quite pleasantly into a place where producers of all kinds can work in the confines of their own bedrooms and throw together music that is truly mesmerising. Recently the trend toward glitchy electronics has been replaced with one for home-grown low-fidelity folk sounds, and we've been treated to beautiful records from sources such as Digitalis, Fonal and the masses of US micro-labels and cdr imprints doing the rounds. One such gem is this debut full-length from Kansas multi-instrumentalist Aaron Martin, who has been picked up by Australia's always-interesting Preservation label. Taking cues from avant-pranksters The Books and post-classical outfit Clogs, Martin also manages to bring to the record 'that' sound, the sound of home-grown folkish experimentalism bringing to mind Thuja and the Jewelled Antler Collective, MV&EE or The North Sea. This is all placed together expertly with a distinctly US slant - so we hear banjos and fiddles colliding with bubbling electronics and carefully selected vocal cuts, or sweeping strings and delicate electric guitar melodies offset by the sound of hiccupping toys and trickling streams. There is a lightness, a humour and a delicateness to Martin's production that endears his music to you almost instantly and leaves a lasting impression so many recordings fail to do. Where 'Almond' really stands out though is in its composition, the songs rather than being a mess of failed ideas and half-hearted jams seem measured and deeply thoughtful, and this is what sets it apart from so many other albums in the sprawling genre. A gorgeous, whimsical and hugely rewarding record, 'Almond' is one of those records that will warm the room in winter and actually put a smile on your face without resorting to tired old tricks or micro-cliché's. Highly recommended.