Spondee - Childhood

Released: April 1

Representing the collaborative effort between two artists based in Athens, Georgia; Childhood is a remarkable fusion of ambient textures and jazz sensibilities. Louis Romano builds up intriguing and deep background accompaniments while saxophonist Marcus Gilley brings in the heavy jazz notes through his soloing and improvisation. But the whole album is rather interesting in its approach to blending these two elements with this approach changing  in odd and unexpected ways as the album progresses. The opening track, "Adrift," seems to be an almost entirely ambient composition, save for lightly jazzy introduction of Gilley. Soft textures and airy plucks move across the soundscape as Gilley gently solos along in smooth fashion. The second track, "Childhood," seems at first to follow much of the same motifs at first. That is until midway through it becomes a full-on jazz track with only the slightest hints of ambient music. So it becomes apparent quickly that this is neither an ambient album nor a jazz album, but an album that uses the best of both while including a number of odd experimental elements of its choosing. 

A great example of the album showing its more experimental side is "Seven Woods." This track appropriately sits at the very middle of the album and seems to decide that it will neither be jazz or ambient. The choice of effects is very interesting, particularly in regard to the saxophone, which seems to incorporate a weird stutter-type effect that likes to appear randomly alongside the smooth natural tone. This effect is also used on a vocal sample from which the title of the song is derived. It makes a rather fun juxtaposition, one that becomes even more complex as the jazzier elements of the track bump into the less pronounced ambient elements and create something that is smooth, abrasive, relaxing, and jarring all at the same time. 

I have to say that this is a rather fun album in the way it keeps you on your toes. The elements of jazz are perfect here and at times made me feel as though I should be hanging out in a smoke-filled room with a strong drink in my hand. But just as suddenly as that vibe comes along, it is undercut by some strange electronic oddity, the falling apart of a rhythm, or even an odd choice of effect on an otherwise natural sound. Then it comes right back again as if that weirdness never happened. It's a dynamic I don't seem to come across very often, probably because it is difficult to pull off. But in this case, it is done quite well.


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