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E*vax

Parking Lot Music

(Audio Dregs Recordings; US: 4 Apr 2001)

Parking Lot Music has both an absolute coherence of sound missing from most pop music and a sense for tunefulness and songcraft missing from most electronic or ambient music. The music created by Evan Mast, aka E*Vax, is dreamy mood music but also catchy, melodic pop.


E*Vax’s music sounds very electronic, but also comfortably earthbound; Mast takes percussive sounds and synth/piano tones and uses them to create a layer of atmosphere underneath, and entwining melodic strains on top. Each song will set the scene, then introduce one melody line, followed by another and another, all fitting together into a tune you can hum along with. That’s the most unique quality of E*Vax’s sound; the duality of it. Each track is on the surface an ambient moodpiece, where you enter an immersive sonic world. But besides surrounding you, each track penetrates into your brain, giving you something you can carry with you through your days: a tune. This is especially true of a few tracks (“What We Mean”, “Neon & Aluminum”, “We Believe in Broken Bones”) which will stick in your head easier than most of the more conventional new pop music that gets played on the radio these days.


There are moments throughout where you momentarily believe E*Vax is pushing into sonic experimentation and forgoing the pop side; in the spacey intro to “Contra Costa”, for example, or the futuristic R2D2-soundalike segment at the beginning of “Renovate”, the album’s final track. But these are moments which soon are overwhelmed by a crisp, beautiful piano part, giving your head something to get stuck on. The album overall has an otherworldly feel, but in a bright, completely up way. It’s like Pole after he discovered the sunshine and started basking it, singing the Beach Boys and watching people go by.


Here lies the line treaded throughout Parking Lot Music, one between everyday life and dreams. This is music which feels different, unique, new, like you’re entering another dimension. Yet by being so accessible and “easy on the ears”, it’s also very grounded in our world, the world where people are just looking for a melody to carry them through to the next day. If the name E*Vax sounds like some sort of brand name, the product being sold is dream music for everyday life. This is Parking Lot Music, not elevator music—it’s music for spaces you use in day-to-day living, but wide-open, expansive spaces, not claustrophobic ones. On Parking Lot Music, E*Vax is watching those spaces that you live in for moments but soon exit, capturing the invisible, effervescent essence that you leave behind, and then serving it back to you as heavenly pop.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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