In Rotation: Natalie Evans, The Nightcrawlers, Slow Meadow, Chad Valley (Review)

Delicate acoustic folk, spaced out synth jams, contemplative ambience, and soulful electronic pop.
Natalie Evans

In Rotation is a regular Opus feature where I post short reviews of noteworthy music, both new and old, that I’ve been listening to lately.

Better at Night by Natalie Evans

I first saw Natalie Evans music described as “twee,” and there is something kind of cutesy and cloying in her acoustic music. But then you get caught up in the playful grace that floats through “In Trees“ ‘ finger-picked guitar melodies. Evans’ girlish vocals and harmonies imbue her songs with a sense of innocence and wide-eyed wonder, making this excellent music with which to welcome spring’s arrival.

The Biophonic Boombox Recordings by The Nightcrawlers

Evoking German kosmische artists like Tangerine Dream and Cluster, The Nightcrawler’s music is pretty trippy, with a lo-fi nature full of charm and weirdness. With organ-like tones and satellite bleeps, “Beckoning Beacon” could be the score to a long-lost sci-fi movie while “Crystal Loop III” and “Transsonic” predate Ghost Box’s hauntology and the current synthwave crop, respectively. Meanwhile, “Baba Yaga’s Flight” evokes the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s old school Doctor Who work, though it dives deeper into the Untempered Schism.

If 24-minute synthesizer jams don’t sound appealing, than you’ll probably find The Biophonic Boombox Recordings a bit taxing. But I confess, I find something delightful about the idea of these three guys just jamming away in their garage, recording straight into a boombox’s microphone, and creating outsider music simply for the love of it — and that this music still exists for us to space out to, even decades later.

We’re Losing the Moon by Slow Meadow

Taking its title from the phenomenon of the Moon slowly drifting away from Earth’s orbit, this two-song release by Houston’s Slow Meadow is suitably reserved, stately, and elegiac. The title track combines a melancholy piano and string arrangement with subtle electronic work that practically begs you to slow down and consider your place in the cosmos. Highly recommended for fans of Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and Stars of the Lid (and their related projects).

Imaginary Music by Chad Valley

While touring the USA in 2016, Chad Valley’s laptop — which contained all of the files for a new album — was stolen. Returning to his home in Oxford, Chad Valley (who is actually Hugo Manuel) undertook the task of rebuilding his third album from scratch. The result is Imaginary Music, which will be released on May 25 by Cascine.

You can listen to the album’s first single, “Impartial,” which is filled with Valley’s trademark electronic pop and smooth-as-silk vocals (which are joined by Katherine Robertson’s). Valley claims as an influence the “hyper-romantic music of the 80s” (e.g., China Crisis, Prefab Sprout) as well as Toto and Heart. “Impartial” certainly sounds of a certain decade but it never sounds indebted to a particular artist.

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