It’s very exciting be invited to contribute to Ball of Wax. Thanks to Levi for the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to a dialogue with the readership. This will be my first post here, and I hope you dig it! I see digging as an anthropological endeavor, unearthing unique people and moments in history. The music I want to share here will be under that theme, if otherwise disparate. Novel religious movements, outsider folk, cross-cultural projects and bedroom experimentalists, all these play in to what gets me excited, with probably the odd song about cats or spaceships. Without further ado . . .
Raymond Daniel Platt – Fields of View
(Paradise Boutique, 1986)
Released on Paradise Boutique Records out of northern California in 1986, Fields of View is a sort of electro-acoustic music that really sounds great on cassette; saturated layers of singing synthesizers, sampled and live percussion with a sort of workshop feel. Walking the line between new age and some sort of digital jazz, this densely produced album ages well, despite the programmed “brass” sounds that play the fanfare of the opening track. Chirps and vespers cast a warm glow that bears the Californian new age origin, and there is some truly creative tape sampling on a few selections. If you’re willing to listen past just a little smoothed out sax (no solos, I promise) there is a lot on offer in this artifact.
Platt’s talent lies in the layering, the later songs on the A side are at times reminiscent of Hassell’s structural and urban rhythms, but with a meditative and immediately immersive affect, played nicely in shorter than expected tracks. Sampled and digital percussion stack on loops of modulated absentminded singing and downright classic – if digital – synthesizer programming to give several tracks a feel that remind this listener of Madlib interludes.
The opening track on the B side is likely one of the most successful on the album, featuring a simple but effective line which is refrained ad nauseam by a variety of voices as swirls of percussion and bass patter away beneath, again, not overly long. Successfully blending digital and acoustic sounds, always leaving room for a diverse set of voices while finding space for each – I’m not saying it’s IDM, but it might be proto-braindance.
What makes this instrumental album so endearing to me is as a one man electroacoustic band Platt plays a sort of electronic folk music, definitely Californian and quite personal in its universalism. The liner notes convey the following message from the creator of this collection of songs, “The intent of this music is to create movement; to take us to the edge, to arouse the parts inside of us that may still be sleeping. Keep your door open.”
(dl link in the description)