Ambient

Fogwood: “The Mystic Valley”

Yesterday was the summer solstice, not that you’d be able to tell with how grey and rainy it was. So to complement this week’s inclement weather, we’re getting a little foggy this Friday. And that’s on behalf of Fogwood.

Down to three members from the original four we heard on Fogwood’s eponymous 2022 debut, this Austin outfit lets their multi-instrumental imagination run loose with players alternating between guitar, keys, synth, mellotron, cello, and theremin. In doing so, Fogwood almost obscures who’s playing what and when, which is ultimately an ideal for their meditative, transformative, and free associative electronic instrumental arrangements.

Well, just in time for the summer solstice, Fogwood and the celestial elements aligned with the release of their sophomore full-length Inner Chambers yesterday. True to its title, Inner Chambers is a cavern-deep sonic experience that expands more than you may expect, albeit with no tight squeezes spoiling transitions between the seven intriguing tunes. They’re all great. They’re all weird. And they’ll all fill you with a feeling of awe. But we’ll give a special shoutout to Inner Chambers‘ centerpiece “The Mystic Valley” for its percussion-less, Philip Glass-esque arpeggios and atmospheric pads that almost sound like a cut track from the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack.

Lunar Gold: “Low Light”

Even though it’ll always be a nightly main attraction, the moon’s also been a hot topic thanks to recent international missions, both successes or failures. But of course, for every state-funded effort, there’s a private space venture in the hands of a billionaire. Which begs a question. Once corporations capitalize the moon, how much of its resources will be scavenged for profit?

We can only speculate about what prized minerals will define the next era of mining, so for now, let’s just focus on Lunar Gold. An endeavor captained by Austin singer-guitarist Jason Morris, Lunar Gold specializes in a dark ambient sound that captures the emptiness of outer space and the loneliness of a largely-untouched surface, whose distant glow ironically affords Earthlings some comfort among the cosmos. Lunar Gold’s still-slim online discography is split between Bandcamp and Spotify, but as we learned with last week’s super moon, good things come to those who wait.

Case in point, ahead of a live set 11PM next Saturday at Stubb’s indoors (with free admission to anyone holding a Local Natives wristband), Lunar Gold’s gifted us the luminous new single “Low Light”. “Low Light” effortlessly passes through rocky phases of prog and psych thanks to Morris’ glorious, reverb-glazed falsetto and his backing quartet’s unified precision despite a challenging, zero-gravity tempo. It’s a dimmer glimmer that beats the hell out of this treacherous Texas sunshine and gives a whole new meaning to moonglow. So rather than let the remainder of the work week eclipse your prospects for next weekend, fade your troubles away in just under five minutes with “Low Light”.

Sugar Purr: “Other Heart”

As we hit double digit days in the new year, it’s worth mentioning that in the past week and a half alone, a bevy of superb songs have already sweetened the deal for 2023. And there’s proof in the purring! Roughly one year after premiering a triplet of live performance videos on YouTube, Austin quartet Sugar Purr just gave us a double lump with their debut pair of studio singles last Saturday. And before you hiss at their handle; you’d better believe these morsels are for more than just Meow-Meows! Spearheaded by singer-guitarist John Wilhelm, Sugar Purr crafts complex sonic cocktails; they refine and reverberate elements of Pink Floyd, Andy Schauf, and Santo & Johnny into psychedelic country-tropical concoctions, somehow ideal for both lonesome buckaroos and boozy beach bums alike. The newly-released B-Side is just as much of a treat as its predecessor but we had to unwrap Sugar Purr for newcomers with the luau-ready lap steel and siesta-friendly structure of “Other Heart”. Just don’t nod off at work.

Psycho & Plastic: “Back and Forth”

True to its name, ambient music seems best suited only to certain environments. I mean, we typically associate those sounds with New Age yoga and meditation studios; you’re not in your car cranking those healing frequencies up to 11. But that’s kind of weird, right? That we’ve collectively decided percussion and lyrics are must-haves in mainstream music? Enter Psycho & Plastic, an ambient project masterminded by South German composer-producers Alexandre Decoupigny and Thomas Tichai over the past decade. Since meeting in Liverpool and relocating to their current home base in Berlin, Psycho & Plastic have engineered electronic brilliance that gives even Brian Eno a run for his money. And with over four million streams under the belt, the pair have proven that ambient music ain’t just for asanas. At the start of July, Psycho & Plastic released Phantom Bliss, a lyric-less sonic safe space for you to be alone with your thoughts. The aural apparitions on Phantom Bliss are among Psycho & Plastic’s greatest to date, and will have you pressing ‘repeat’ with ambient earworms like “Back and Forth”.

Jesse Beaman: “Immerse”

If you’re the type of listener who thinks talking, singing, and traditional song structures are all just a bunch of noise, you’re probably a fan of ambient music. Enter Austin multi-instrumentalist/composer Jesse Beaman, who’s recorded and toured the globe thoroughly under the handle My Empty Phantom for the past decade. Beaman’s laid out a resplendent blend of experimental rock and minimalist ambient, a style that’s naturally earned him film scoring opportunities for the likes of National Geographic.

In the past few years alone Beaman’s co-founded the production company and record label MAX / MIN, along with Interpol’s Brandon Curtis, who produced and recorded Jesse Beaman’s new LP,¬†Mira, at his Vermont studio. You’ll be able to experience the full vision of Mira¬†on July 16th, but feel free to turn on, tune in, and drop out early with the aptly-titled “Immerse”.