Super-prolific ambient/experimental artist and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (Tarentel, The Holy See, Sea Zombies, The Alps, Raum, the Root Strata label, etc) has released two limited edition cassettes this year; first, Songs of Remembrance (Psychic Trouble Tapes) and now Songs of Forgiveness on Boro Records. Both sides (sold out, but available for digital purchase here) feature long-form instrumental suites of slow-moving, mid-fi, heavily-layered major key ambient works that veer between lush new age Twin Peaks vibes, electronic sound experimentation, and crafted dream pop.
The heart of Side A is a slow, reverberating Casio-esque beat that ambles through clouds, aloft in the soft, hazy atmosphere of cruddily recorded (audible deterioration, cutting-out, hiss) synth layers and a ultra distant guitar melody–each element never really syncing up over an extended two-chord progression. The track segues into the intoxicating mood of what sounds like a Cure Disintegration instrumental–another two chord piece complete with rich choral pads, violin strings, a spectral melody, and a simple backwards-sounding drum pattern with perfectly timed delay. Side B brings more simple beats and major key expeditions into the realms of drone, twinkle and layer, with perhaps a bit more plodding touch, but with an effect no less sexy and compelling even into double-digit minutes. It’s hard to put your finger on what makes hearing all of (or most of) the notes in a major scale at once so damn beautiful. But as with a lot of good ambient, it’s not so much about variation as it is about allowing your ears to figure out the mysterious depths of harmony. Cantu-Ledesme has a little fun with end of tape, bringing in a host of chirping metallic blips, tweaking electro-gurgles, and atonal 8-bit melodies into the mix.