Rough day? No problem. Load up East Forest’s Music Meditations, give it two minutes, and everything that’s bothering you is going to just coast quietly away. From there, you’ve got an hour’s pleasant and catchy respite from your various woes. Trevor Oswalt, recording as East Forest, offers up 10 tracks that were improvised and recorded live through the use of looping pedals, catching musical thoughts in the very moment they happened. The results are light, but not fluffy, and run quite deep. Oswalt’s mix of acoustic instruments, electronics and field recordings come together perfectly. A great organic touch comes from the harmonica in “Slowly But Forward” and “Roll With It.” Outside of augmenting the quiet melodies at work, it’s like a reminder of the simple vitality of breath. His field recording sources are fairly broad–I like the PA system announcements in “Common Ground,” providing vital information on escalator safety as Oswalt lays down a jaunty line on keys, accented with a vocal line. It’s a cool out-of-left-field touch that just works. Mechanical sounds, dogs and seagulls also find their way into the piece, and it’s all integral. My one “Hmm” on this disc comes from how similar “Trailblazing” feels to “Common Ground”–like they share a loop base. But “Trailblazing” soon becomes its own charming self, lithely descending notes and popping chords on electric piano repeating themselves into a lulling mix, so I can easily forgive it. Music Meditations is quite honestly one of the most soothing non-ambient discs I’ve had the pleasure to listen in a while, and that sense comes from its easy, playful edge and a sort of smiling sense of calm that winds itself throughout. It’s feel-good without being sappy, and fully owns its laid-back feel. Oswalt clearly loves the openness of improvisation, and doesn’t let it stray into experimental territory. Despite the in-the-moment reality of what’s happening here, everything feels well constructed and planned. This is my introduction to East Forest and I’m looking forward to hearing more. Definitely one to check out.
Available from East Forest’s web site.