Dreamy ambient meets cool dub influences on the new release from Denmark’s As If. Artist Kenneth Werner glides in and out of beat-fueled spaces and through long, calming stretches on Faraway Trees Standing Still. The whole ride eases by with you responding to it like a reflex. The beats, often nicely underplayed, make you move whether you like it or not; the mesmerizing ambient bits shut down your capacity for conscious thought and just let you drift along on the cool. And when they come together, it’s pretty much perfect. Which is where we find ourselves at the start, with “Dawn” arriving on with slow pads and bouncing , sequenced notes. It feels soft, and as comforting as that first morning stretch. That’s the overall tone of this release. It never really challenges you, which is fine. It wants you to kick back and drop into it, and you will. The draw here is the way Werner modulates the ride, both across the whole release and within individual tracks. “Distant Hill” is a prime example, a piece that takes its time meandering through a valley composed of soft pads, then percolates suddenly with a springy hit of the sequencer. It draws your attention, pulls you to the surface briefly, then fades back. And when Werner cranks up the dub side of the equation, it’s mighty tasty. “Forest Beyond,” once it has satisfied the equation of cool beats rising up out of misty pads, lays heavy on the echoes, fading reverb lines crossing over each other as they go.
From start to finish, Faraway Trees Standing Still is lush and cool, immersive and catchy. I like that it doesn’t raise its voice, that it’s content with its laid-back self even when the sequencer is gently upping the pulsing BPMs. No bumps, no breaks, just one very smooth groove. Definitely dive into this one.
Available from gterma.