Play One Note

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Blondes – Touched EP

Published on January 28, 2011

blondes touched epThere are times, when suffering from the jagged angularity of your day-to-day, when you need enforced limbo, a sort of pleasant mental suspension and insulation from the unexpected, the harsh, and the real.  Blondes, with their Touched EP, provide that perfect humid, mathematical immersion needed to achieve a happy internal stasis.

The five tracks that make up Touched all consist of variations on that easy-breezy Balearic drift that took peaceful hipsters by storm in 2007.  It’s all mellow synth washes, earnest, buried melodies, and charmingly lo-fi beats on the slow side of mid-tempo.  It’s house music for a humid summer’s night: leached of all drama, devoid of urgency, languid, and warm.

You can point to all manner of contemporary referents, because this Balearic/chillwave sound is definitely a “thing,” but I’m not going to do that because a) I don’t have the sort of complete or even particularly well-informed knowledge of that scene to feel like I can pick influences w/o consulting Wikipedia and Pitchfork and Grooveshark and making guesses, and b) the much more interesting (at least from my perspective) reference point is Manuel Göttsching’s guitar geometries from the late 70s and early 80s.

To tell the Göttsching story the right way would involve a serious digressionary swerve, so I’m gonna just avoid that tarpit and say that he was an ex-Krautrock psych lord who moved away from the acid-drenched, mind-melting experiments of his youth in Ash Ra Tempel toward a progressively more ordered, elevated, and clear-eyed approach, one embodied by albums such as Ashra’s* 1976 album New Age of Earth and epitomized by Göttsching’s own brilliant 1984 effort E2-E4.

E2-E4 is a true rarity, an electronic album that’s over 25 years old and doesn’t sound dated.  It’s a masterpiece of repetition, all fractal guitar figures and stately rhythms and luscious layers of synth.  It’s nearly an hour long, and it’s endlessly engrossing.

Enough about that, though.  (Actually, not enough about that.  I should probably write about E2-E4 soon.)  Blondes continues that aesthetic tradition set forth by Göttsching, and they do it proud.  Even if Touched doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before, it’s still more than worth spending an hour drifting in its hypnotic, amniotic warmth.

*Yes, that’s a name change.  Sometimes you just gotta reinvent.

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