Donâ€™t go into Constellation, the new release by San Diegoâ€™s (late of Northeastern Ohio) Longsleeves, looking for snappy choruses or arena-rocking riffs. Or many recognizable instruments, for that matter. Not so much a â€œguy holed up with his instrumentsâ€ project as it is a cohesive experiment in liquid sonic languor, Constellation requires a bit of lifting â€“ or, better yet, active relaxation â€“ from the listener.Â
All instrumental and decidedly indie-centric, Constellation isnâ€™t simply laptop Muzak. Sure, the tracks run together pretty much seamlessly, and thereâ€™s not really anything here in the way of verse/chorus/verse, but active listening reveals detail, the aural equivalent of a calm and muddy stream you have to be submerged in to see that itâ€™s teeming with life. The muted glitches and scratchy backgrounds that underpin all the songs establish sort of a foundation to the gauzy keyboard lines and pads â€“ there are no sharp edges here.Â
Opener â€œGreat Bearâ€ sets the tone immediately, with an understated beating-heart rhythm, simple, celestial keyboards and an uninterrupted flow of static-y sonic snow lightly falling amidst the spare notes. The ever-so-slightly spooky â€œLittle Bearâ€ is haunted by dissonant swaths partially buried in the mix, while â€œHunterâ€ comes closest to anything resembling â€œconventionalâ€ beats on the album (yet itâ€™s all still incredibly subtle).Â
By the time youâ€™ve become fully assimilated to Constellation, â€œSwanâ€ plays you out with droning warmth. Do not operate heavy machinery at this point. Longsleeves proves masterful at taking us beneath the surface; to call Constellation â€œchill-outâ€ music would be a misnomer. More like â€œwomb-rock.â€ Go to www.sixtyyearswar.com for more information.