London’s James Murray is trying to do a difficult thing with his debut record. Even the masters of electronic music struggle with the making of truly compelling, progressive, ambient tracks. You have to remain simple enough to chill, but juicy enough to maintain direct interest. Often, you’ve got to craft sounds that are interesting enough to carry a track for six minutes or longer, without being distracting or monotonous.
To his credit, Murray is close to striking that balance. He is circling the airport, but hasn’t been given permission to land quite yet. The album simply lacks the character necessary to differentiate it from everything else, to relax without falling into boredom. Conversely, there’s nothing about it that really stands out negatively. “Gaijin” benefits from a steady, faster beat and a moment of squirrelly vocal tweaking, riding pads to a piano, tabla, and processed flute peak. I just can’t recall what the three tracks before it sound like. He shouldn’t be afraid to allow himself to venture outside of his comfort zone.
// Notes from the Road
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