Other Lands - Day to Day Recovery (N/A, 2020)
The versatile producer delivers up another excellent slice of sutbly unravelling electronica that is as diverse and colourful as ever.
When a artist sets the perameters far and wide within their musical worlds, you always know that special things are going to populate it. The boundaries a kind of guide, but never considered the be all and end all, the expansions continuing with each step forward. Each tune a step further down the rabbit hole of enriching experience and lush soundscapes, the textures and feels almost cool and gentle to the touch, our bonds with it becoming strengthened with each record. Within electronica, the artists who often convey the most amount of meaning and substance within their music are those who dwell very much within the atmospherical and ethereal worlds, where tone and mood are crafted delicately to provide the most vivid of scenes, a vibrancy conjured up by a mixture of keys, drums and instruments. Whilst not a new thing, as many facets within the umbrella term have looked to utilise this notion of engagement through textures and tones, certainly within a contemporary setting people have brought in varying elements from many places, borrowing much in terms of beat construction and melodic style, with each producer found within this realm giving over a slightly different flavour. Each musical landscape has an intrinsic flavour, with their own varying characters that ebb and flow and groove along with each other, with our investment in the music coming from the connections we allow ourselves to develop with it. Sometimes we really find ourselves immersed, the layering of sounds and elements that which strike a chord with us on an emotional level, the structures of instrumentation giving birth to something tangible and alive. Whilst quite an expansive view, its testament to the artist that they can channel their worlds into songs, where all these elements that populate their world collide in an array of beauty, the sonic ness riding high through the careful blends of a wide variety of instruments. It makes the music feel more than just that, it has a mind and will of its own, one that jumps from the tune and into our listening experience. Its a kind of magic that only some have mastered, and when we become accustomed to their worlds, we are hooked for life.
As a musician, Gav Sutherland has certainly spread his visions far and wide. Throughout his career, his music has always displayed an intelligence not just via compositions or construction, but the way in which melodies and sound mould together to provide musical experiences that seem fresh and exhilarating. That exuberance and excitement has always come through, be it via more up tempo house numbers, through to deft and unravelling electronica laden numbers, through to the ethereal and epic soundscapes, it all winds together via someone very much in tune with their own vision, but always allowing space for more to come into that musical universe. Its this kind of adaptability and willingness to evolve and explore that has made Sutherland's music so undeniably enjoyable, with each alias conjuring up some new take on the styles he holds dear. That remains the exciting part for listeners, who have some level of expectation of what might come next but always feeling surprised and invigorated as a result of a new production from him. In terms of his discography, there's a fair bit for you to get your teeth into, with each name providing new sides to the sound for you to get behind. One of his first productions was alongside Gareth Sommerville, as Charizmatix, who released just one EP, 1998's 'On My Mind', a whirlwind sprint through fast paced deep jazzy house. His Fudge Fingas alias was the most prominent early on, with a steady release of EPs on labels such as Dekmantel, Rush Hour, Firecracker and Prime Numbers all exploring the facets of house and melodic techno. Our personal favourites from this alias include the brilliant melodic 'What Works' EP from 2011, and the sunny side up 'S.V.T' EP from 2012. His contributions to the various Firecracker compilations under this name are also excellent, and look to contextualise his sound within the label's musical ideals. Since 2015 or so, Sutherland has largely focused his outputs into Other Lands, another alias that moved his sound into the realms of the atmospherical and spell binding, where the structures become more varied and the textural exploration went into full throttle. He was part of the Mac-Talla Nan Creag collective (that also includes Lord Of The Isles and Hoch Ma Toch), who in 2015 released their self-titled debut and in 2019 the follow up, 'The Sorrow Of Derdriu', both of which were acclaimed for the visions within the music that seemed to traverse time and space, a pure psychedelia infused journey through realms of blissed out plains and sparse reverberating sub scapes. All of his solo Other Lands work is so worth checking out, with our favourites being the 'Pattern Transform' record from 2018, the 'Rehearse in Reverse' mixtape from last year, and the absolutely gorgeous 'Sounds for Isolated Souls' from earlier this year. If you want to maybe see a new side to your favourite genre, or simply wish to immerse yourself within a world of colour and texture, where flickering objects continually capture your attention, you could do no worse than check out his works. Its all very, very good.
And so, we arrive at the latest offering from Other Lands, 'Day To Day Recovery'. A record that very much continues on from the previous record, with the variety of styles aligned together as perfect as ever, the tones and melodies at the highest level, the essence running right through the heart of it all. Just like with a lot of his work, there is always a little bit of room for growth, where elements become more pronounced or bold, moving the tune forward to new realms. The flow through the tracks is one that resonates so strong, the energy levels always simmering along, the life force connecting through us and back again. So, lets take a dip.
First up comes 'Just Stay Home', and the tone is suitably spacious. What begins as a droning chord in the backdrop, with all manner of little pieces moving around, then descends smoothly into a bottom line emotive key change, the drums keeping pace with a calm groove. The bass line then takes root, inhabiting the mid section of the track so effectively, as the low slung guitar riff trades places with the delicate keys on top. The mixture is instantly infectious, a mix of wonderment that slowly passes by, a gentle breeze that washes over all it comes into contact with. The vocal line moves into view, giving it a real Balearic sort of tone, the narrative providing a context to all the rich instrumentation doing its thing underneath. Solid. Up next comes 'The Meek', and we are greeted by the rhythm straight off the bat. As it moves along with purpose, the light key sequences on top permeate, as the most wondrous guitar riff you ever heard swings into view to give the melodies some real depth. Like driving through a enclosed landscape before it opens up to the vastness of it all, the track builds up its boundaries to the widest extents possible, as further levels are added to this core progression. The main riff drops out for a few sequences, that gives all kinds of varying elements the time to shine, with the movement from this more structured progression leading into a more loose and dynamic area just perfect. Up next comes 'Medit 8', and we arrive in fully released electronica worlds. The drums speak softly, their presence and rhythm a tool for all the key work on top to do its thing. This is led by the arpeggio line that continually grooves right through the heart of proceedings, as all kinds of keys flicker and float over the rich layers. The pads that chime every now and then create this melodic structure, giving sense and purpose to all the bold and expressive key lines that drift and dwell within this beautiful world. The drum switch up occurs near the half way mark, and encourages all the keys to exert their influence and presence on the track, with swift crescendos and fuller arrangements coming together within this subtle but highly effective change in energy. The structures switch up once more, with the claps looking to fill the spaces between the beats and the grooves, as the arpeggio synth line remains strong through all the transitions. There's still time for one more flow through all the emotive elements, the keys all joining forces for one final encounter.
'Wodwo' follows next, and the chordal line beginnings things off. Flowing through with such grace. the keys invite others to join them on the journey, that quickly gains speed via the additions of underlying cymbals and soft but energetic drumming. The density of the elements underneath becomes even more so with the addition of the claps abounding in the backdrop, with the drumming pattern allowed time and space to show itself off in all its glory as the chords drop out. The sheen that exists on top of the music allows for the movements between different phases to be pulled off so effectively, the glossy excellence of the textures giving this track such appeal. Its very easy to dive right into this track, its just so damn inviting. Perfect. 'Pride Before The Fall' arrives next, and the tempo and tone take a deep dive into the sultry and silky. The beat takes a back seat, with the pulsating bass line hitting right through the middle. The guitar that moves into view reminds one of some kind of J Funk/fusion gem, its tone and presence reminiscent of the night time and all the interactions that come within it. The vocals, deep and muted within the sea of sound, resonate like a whisper, powerful in its delivery, complimenting the style and nature of the track perfectly. As they drift out, we move back into the instrumental areas, the guitar coming into its own as a solo tool, with tinkling keys adding extra levels of complexity and mood. A stunner. 'Search For The Tireless Frog' comes next, that begins in a suitably loose kind of arrangement. The drums move between two points, softly crashing, swelling and receding, as the middle ground is occupied by all manner of beautifully placed and considered melodic notions. The piano swirls at the epicentre, the guitar wails and sombrely drifts on the edge, as glimmers of keys and pads move into the light for brief moments. Its honestly quite astonishing, first of all from a compositional point of view but also in terms of production, arrangement and flow, the nature of the track never loosing its power through the micro transitions, only strengthening its resolve as we completely give our selves over to this undeniably brilliant song. To wrap things up, we have 'Come To Knowledge', with the drum machine kicking things off, and before long we get the full picture. The vocals take a strong lead in this one, the backing melodies and feels one of absolute relaxation, of letting go, with their presence gently grooving along to the angelic vocal lines. Its a perfect ender to proceedings, the final piece of the puzzle aligning into view on this record filled with expression, endless vision and environmental wonderment.
Like with the previous records, there is so much to get your teeth into with an Other Lands record. One thing you will always seem to experience is the journey through beautifully contained worlds, each cut giving over some kind of new and revitalising experience, a new take or structure keeping our engagement high, our connections to the music strengthened. Sutherland once more demonstrates his talents on this record, one that is filled with much to marvel at, a lot to reach out and touch, and a door into a new place you might know, but you will know more by the end of it all. A really, really stunning piece of music.
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