Lawrence – A Day In The Life
In his sizable and celebrated career Peter Kersten has often displayed a propensity for ambient music. From his first Lawrence LPs and singles on Dial and Ghostly through the long association with Mule Musiq and Ladomat 2000 amongst many others, even his housiest moments have been shot through with that winsome, ethereal musicality that would sit comfortably in the chill-out room were they stripped of their rhythm section. There have been some outright ambient tracks that have appeared scattered throughout his releases, but here on this new album for Mule we get to take a long form ride through the softest, most gentle sides of Kersten’s output.
In truth, if you have ever enjoyed or followed Kersten’s music then you will know to some extent what to expect from A Day In The Life. The hazy piano that loops around in “Horses” evokes all those feelings of misty Autumn mornings that you would associate with a Lawrence record, as illustrious strings weigh down heavy and very subtle slithers of sonic detritus try to slip through the gaps in between. Some moments are sparser, from the simple chime refrains of the title track to the beat-free space techno bleeps of “Marlen”, and in these calmer, repetitive pieces you can fully appreciate the levels of composition that go into Kersten’s music. The strings constantly move, continually tugging at the heart with melodic progressions, without upsetting the delicacy of the looped phrase, where simplicity is key.
Elsewhere the focus may be on one sound played out across a few minutes in a natural, expressive manner, as on “Fainting”. The magic is in the synth sound itself, which warbles and wobbles joyfully without a fixed mantra, sounding very much like a pleasant jam with no need for any other audible distractions. There are a couple of tracks that sound like fuller techno pieces with the beats stripped out. “Nowhere Is A Place” and “Blue Mountain” in particular use sharper edged synths in amongst the more delicate arpeggios and pads that hark back to classic Detroit romanticism without any of the brute force of a drum machine. In the space age sound design and cyclical arrangements there is a definite echo of techno and it’s no bad thing.
In other parts of the album though you can find yourself lost in a folky reverie; “The Visit” in particular uses more organic-sounding tones and plenty of reverse processing with an effect akin to sunlight refracting through a dew-laden field at dawn. The analogy might be trite but it’s just the kind of comforting imagery that Kersten’s music can arouse in the mind.
What makes A Day In Life such a worthwhile ambient record is that it constantly moves. It’s not perhaps crafted as a seriously considered whole body of work, but rather a collection that zooms in on Kersten’s mellowest side, and that’s a worthy cause for an LP alone. That the styles and approaches change continually throughout is all the better. Ambient records will always be good at washing over you unless you actively focus on them, and whichever approach you take to listening, this is an album that will make you feel good. Unless of course you hate ambient electronic music, in which case you might want to steer clear.
A2. A Day In The Life
A3. Lucy, Lucy
A4. Nowhere Is A Place
B2. The Visit
B3. Dreams Are Dead
B4. Blue Mountain
B6. Lost In Joy