What is fascinating about experimental electronic music, of whatever kind, is that it can usually be perceived extremely differently by different people, or depending on context. This goes for most works of art, or most of anything, but nowhere is it as obviously true as when it comes to music that works to evoke moods, or explore sound.
Take Wave Temple’s Island Enchanted, a recently released cassette album (already sold out, but a download is still to be had). The mean spirited reviewer could easily say that it sounds like a CD to help people quit smoking, sold at gas stations for $1.99, or some mass produced New Age music aimed towards making middle-aged women find their inner Goddess. Then again – who are we to judge, and if someone gives up the old cancer sticks, maybe even a truth value of 1 for these grumpy and negative assessments wouldn’t hurt Wave Temple’s music that much.
Nevertheless, any such assessment would be grossly unfair. Island Enchanted is in fact way more subtle than most mass produced relax/chill-out music. Behind the field recorded soothing waves and bird vocalization, and the synthesized flutes, there is a slight edge, a certain “rough” quality, that is hardly just the product of the cassette medium. The minimalism is a little too radical, the instrumentation a bit too nuanced, to really evoke any sense of cheapness. Far-fetched similes, unlikely to be appreciated by the artist, would be an endlessly softer version of Darkthrone side project Neptune Towers, except set in a Caribbean paradise rather than outer space, or even some of the early atmospheric Burzum synth work.
There are peculiarities. Where I come from, there’s mainly sea birds by the sea, but on Wave Temple’s beaches there are all sorts of woodland birdies chirping their hearts out. The image is certainly one of equatorial regions – the group is from Flordia, though – rather than the harsher shores of Europe. Given the weather here at the time of writing, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
If you feel bad, and want to feel better, this is probably for you. If you feel good, and want to keep feeling good, this is probably for you too. And if you want to quit smoking… Who knows?