Released: April 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
I felt that this record would make a wonderful contrast with my last review. Heilung’s “LIFA” is all drums and chants (not to mention scary Vikings) but in complete contrast Warmth’s “Parallel” is completely cool & calm (with nary a Viking in sight).
Warmth is the work of Agus from Spain. He also runs the little label called ARCHIVES that he uses to put out his releases and those of others too.
If you like you can also get this release on cassette. Cassette, really! What is it with kids wanting to buy cassettes? Buying vinyl I kinda get but the hissy old tape that we were all more than happy to dump asap??? Anyway if it helps artists make money then why not. The plastic case does seem to make the artwork look really nice and “glassy”.
Hopping off my high horse, altho hopefully, it has given you some time to start to hear the music from the embed, what we have here is pure Minimal Ambient music deliberately in the style of 90’s acts.
Minimal can be an acquired taste if you are expecting all the jive of Pop. Minimal is exactly as it claims; not a lot happens. But that is part of its charm. It is a kind of meditative music, like a New Age record only minus the pan flute & whale samples.
The form largely grew from Brian Eno’s Ambient series where he deliberately built process music that was designed to become a backdrop to a room. A sort of wallpaper of sound. As the House kiddies started to look for new horizons in the early 90’s some of them found this form and dug into it a way. As I admit I did too. Pete Namlook released a record every month or so in his heyday.
“Parallel” is one step off as minimal as you can get. There are chord changes, matter of fact pretty fast chord changes for this style. But there isn’t much else past the thick synth chords. Sometimes there is a wind noise that twists around, but don’t expect lead lines or even little sounds to goose you.
If you are listening directly then this may not suit you. However, if you use the music as intended (as wallpaper) then it serves its purpose rather well. It is warm, embracing and totally safe to help you read, study, tryper (as I am right now), or even drift to sleep.
What you get is an hour of very smooth sound. Plus a seamless mix so if you have a gapless player you don’t need to hear track transitions. This probably suits the album format better. If only more mp3 players were written to do this thing. Seems like a step back when vinyl (and even stinky cassette) could.
My only real criticism with “Parallel” is that I feel that the pieces seem to studiously ignore any resolution in the chordal movement. The chords are all nice ones and they move from one to another just fine but there is never any sense of resolution. A lack of Perfect Cadence if I try my musical theory hat on. That I find frustrating as tension is built but not released or resolved. It actually makes it harder for me to fall asleep. I’m all for breaking rules but if the results aren’t good then… To be fair this is a thing I find in many newer releases like the Bouvetøya record pictured above.
Overall though I will say that if you are partial to this musical form or are looking for a musical wallpaper to soothe then Warmth’s “Parallel” is well worth a listen.