All the albums below are truly audio fidelity benchmarks. One can use it to meticulously test audiophile sound components. But, one should better relax and enjoy the music.
Norwegian trumpet player Mathias Eick is kind of an oddball. He could be a jazz veteran; his proficiency level, his breathing, everything is suitable for ascending to the top, and playing stadium-crowded concerts somewhere between NY and Cali. He has been within touching distance, playing along with Manu Katchè, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, etc.
Or he could break into pop music from jazz. He could begin playing with the most prominent pop-stars, touring world-wide than become someone like Dominic Miller for Sting.
But Mathias Eick prefers Nordic fusion. Every song from the album is as simple as an étude. Yet, it puts a romantic veil around a listener. As good as Harold Budd does.
Thank you, Mathias, for not searching the easy way.
Joseph Shabason — Anne
Joseph Shabason, the saxophone player, is from Canada. He is unlikely known by listeners, but praised by critics. He was credited for a special sound of ‘the War on Drugs — Lost in the Dream’, and ‘Destroyer — Kaputt’ albums.
When Shabason has got around to release his solo album, he has taken it very seriously. He has used the most authentic 80’s synths for jazz-ambient background, recreating the sound of the late Miles Davis.
On the top layer, his mother is speaking. A listener can start distinguishing what she’s saying during the third or fourth repetition. And look for sense in her words. Or just relax after hard work, or rehab after a cruel boss fight in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Author has tried. Author approves.
Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang — Atmosphères
Usually, ambient is the duty of one. Albums (like the Anne, above) are the result of that self-reflection. Afterwards, musicians like to brag how extraordinary the conditions have been while they’ve been recording the lick, looped for 27 minutes.
Duets are more seldom. Like Brian Eno with Harold Budd. Both are like Jesus and Buddha in universe of ambient. Questioning their approach is blasphemy, indeed.
Reviewing the Atmosphères‘ lineup — it’s ECM all-stars team — one can ask the only question. How did they reach agreement? On some songs, there are less sound tracks than musicians claimed.
Certainly, ECM is the best audiophile melancholy supplier. Yet, they have never been prone to recording melodic ambient. Usually, there has been modern contemporary, or neo-classic, or ethnic music. But Atmosphères is an easy for listening to and straightforward album. This is how it stands out of the EMC catalog. In a good way, of course.