Muted sirens. Insect-like clicks. Various street noises. They all gently meld together with a timid, but steady organ chord in a 45-second intro. It’s like staring out the window. Staring out the window of the red room.
Songs From The Red Room was, well, recorded in a red room. And it’s obvious. (Apart from the fact that there are pictures of the room on the CD sleeve). Albert Menduno, A-Set’s main man, has basted the songs with warmth—warmth that acoustic guitars and organs give. It’s that familiarity that only certain things have. Reliable things that you use everyday like your bed or your favorite pair of sneakers—things you have a closeness with. A-Set has managed to capture that sense of familiarity and inject it into these songs. You think you might have heard them before…on some old mix tape a friend gave you, maybe on coming out of the window of a car driving down the street. But in all reality, you’ve never heard A-Set. It’s just that familiarity coming through.
Songs From The Red Room examines interior spaces, without becoming claustrophobic. “Blue Girl” is exactly opposite of what the name implies. This instrumental is the aural equivalent of sunlight coming through the window; soft acoustic guitar melodies cast light in a distorted rectangular shape upon the floor. “Blizzard of ‘99” maintains the calm, indoor attitude with phrases like “You have been keeping the room warm.”
A-Set mixes a few upbeat pop-type tunes like “Pick-A-Lie” (which borrows sounds of the ‘60s) with lazier, mellower songs that bring up the end of the album like “Of Not Forgetting” and “One of Many.”
The instrumental songs on this album aren’t out of place or forced, as is the often the case with in indie pop. “110 Degrees” is the perfect interlude, with an engaging blend of organ, drums, and fun hand claps. “Tomorrow Today” is a sparse melodic organ song that fades into silence.
And that’s when you solemnly, but happily exit the red room.