Like famed gastro-visionary Alice Waters, New Zealand’s Andrew Thomas knows that quality ingredients are essential. Between Buildings and Trees is six years’ worth of such careful cultivation, but since that cultivation produced atmospheric musique concrète, it might be hard to tell. Thomas’s recordings are rarely built of much more than discrete piano tones dubbed over synth washes. The affectations are present, but refreshingly slight, when blown-out analogs (or their digital imitation) are de rigeur for even ambient techno. The loops are lush and spacious, but a crackle of tape hiss just barely exposes the seams between samples, imbuing the sound with a bit of the Books’ soft fragmentation. Sometimes, the deceptive simplicity of these compositions becomes just plain simplicity, which can be frustrating after giving one of the flimsier drones the benefit of the doubt. As a whole, though, Between Buildings and Trees is satisfyingly solid—at least, as far as such wistful, whispery music can be.
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