Sunday 14 August 2022

Tracked Down - An Inbox Tale

Let me tell you all the tale of a bit of a wild experience that I had a couple of days ago. Enter James Varghese of Quiet Love Records, who if nothing else was absolutely resolute in getting in touch with me - going as far as to reach out on a whole bunch of platforms where I share the screen name (Which to his credit, he did apologise for it it came across as a bit weird - if you're reading James, don't worry about it, that's most of the reason I share the CVF name everywhere!). We eventually had a bit of back and forth on Twitter and I said I'd take a look over things when I had some time, and now is that time.

Further credit to James, he was also kind enough to get in touch with a ton of detail about what he's working on - All of which I imagine was in the original email that he sent but passed me by - that happens when you've ended up on a million different promo lists over the last decade or so). So for this next section I'll be cribbing a lot from the info he sent over to me. James in his own words is a "jazz bass player with a masters degree from the jazz school of Zurich turned pop bass player turned indie-producer turned founder of «Quiet Love Records» turned electronic music artist."

His first solo release is due out September 14th after a few years working on other projects in the background at Quiet Love, a release called Ambient 1, the result of a few years worth of tinkering. I'm a sucker for all things ambient anyway, and based on James' description (and some extra details that we'll get into a little later) it sounded very much what I could get into at the minute. I've had the pleasure of listening to the thing on a private Soundcloud playlist and it didn't take long to appeal - "Short and soft" is the descriptor I was given in the accompanying text, and sure enough the solitary tones of 222 fit that bill. A lush wave swoops in to join the lonely pulsar around the halfway mark, and after some time in the spotlight the two come together in harmony, if only for a moment or so.

You'll have to take my word on that one as you can't hear it (yet!), but that isn't the case with Juno Fades, which nicely sets me up to talk about the other bit of the promo text that piqued my interest. To quote James directly: "Most of it was recorded in the biggest synthesizer museum in the world here in Switzerland. It's called SMEM and is located in Fribourg." - which must be a dream come true for any kind of electronic musician or even if you have an interest in the gear in general - doubly so if you're into the archiving process as I am! If you're at all keyed up on your synths (no pun intended), you might have already clocked the Juno reference in the title there. I find it interesting to hear differing modern takes on ambient with this retro gear, I've loved the work of Oneohtrix Point Never for a long time, and his early work was full of downright gorgeous Juno 60 sounds, James' take on the other hand is a little... brighter I want to say, most prominently in the latter half where there's an explosion of triumphant brassy stabs. OPN's work has this decided melancholy to it, whereas Juno Fades feels a little more in the middle - befitting James' line from the description of the private playlist: "I often experience very ambivalent emotions. It’s never black or white."

James' work also feels much more like a Jam session than OPN's work too - and I don't mean that as a knock, if anything it's befitting of his Jazz roots and, after all, I'd probably make the same kind of thing if I had access to rows and rows of weird and wondrous synths like that, and in fact I know that I did back when I was experimenting with my first ambient releases. There's a definite charm to the proceedings, no doubt helped by that background information. Final track Fairfield Rd. however, does remind me quite a bit of OPN's work - drenched in analog hum and with a wistful air - which tracks as its a tribute to the Street James used to live on in East London. I've been listening to a lot of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone recently and the execution of this one very much reminds me of that. They both share a real home made lo-fi feel, even something as simple as the sound of stopping the recording intruding adds a little something to it. Off the top of my head it feels a lot like Tonight Was A Disaster.

Ambient 1 looks like its shaping up to be a lovely little record - as mentioned above this kind of sound is very much in rotation for me at the minute with Casiotone and friends. I appreciate the songs being short as well, last time I tried to explore some more ambient releases I ended up bogged down in a sea of releases ranging from 15 mins to a few hours long and found myself quickly burning out - much like how I feel about Boards Of Canada's more ambient pieces, sometimes short and sweet is better. I've also been working on finishing up the remnants of my own half finished EP from years ago, and hearing James' tale (and of course hearing the results) have given me a little kick to finish things up proper, I'll be sure to drop by when and if I finish it up fully. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Find more from James and Quiet Love at:
James' Bandcamp
James' Soundcloud
James' Twitter
Quiet Love's Bandcamp
Quiet Love's Soundcloud
Quiet Love's Twitter

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