Brian McBride confirmed his role in the sound of seminal ambient act Stars of the Lid with this solo album, a study in patience and quietness. Sampled soft sounds, usually strings, guitars and harmonica, are manipulated, creating drifting-cloud effects with deftly-timed attack and release. Like Eno's "Music For Airports", detached and often rhythmless splashes on pianos and piano-like sounds circle around the feathery beds. A subtle care in choice of warm sounds and effects is coloured by touches like found-sound samples and backwards-playing. Most unusually, the instrumental peace is disturbed by "Our Last Moment in Song", where submerged vocals mumble on top of a strange variety of spiky guitar and keyboard sounds, creating a "Twin Peaks"-like surrealism. Another stand-out is "The Guilt of Uncomplicated Thoughts", which loops an oddly detuned brass sound around little guitar picking for a melancholy, lumbering effect. Apart from these, there are few "look what he did there" moments. It's consistently good though not remarkable ambient music. If you become restless staring at these clouds, I'd recommend its "partner" album by other Lid member "The Dead Texan" for a more dramatically engaging variant of the sound.
September 28, 2008