As we haul ourselves, shellshocked and weary, to the end of a brutal year the artists featured on Beautiful Noise give us a refuge from it all with a dose of utterly gorgeous (instrumental) dream pop bliss.
At first it seems Sunday Records have thrown a bit of a curveball here, but really, from a label that seems to be all about finding beauty and feeling in small intimate moments, it makes total sense. I’ll admit there was a part of me resistant to the idea of an all instrumental album, (yes, ok I’m a Philistine), but that part ran up the white flag around twenty seconds into Japanese Heart Software‘s “Little Cat“, fading in quietly, before kicking in with rumbling bass and chiming guitar, at which point the synth enters and rips your heart to shreds. Exactly as it should be. All I can say is, we need a JHS album asap…
“Million Years“, from Japan’s Mariana in our Heads, twists the knife even deeper. A reverie of crystallised heartbreak, the thud of syndrums like a lonely heartbeat. It’s the soundtrack to a half remembered memory, trapped in amber, replaying again and again.
Three tracks in and California’s Fawns of Love give us “Scattered Pieces“, it’s as if Sylvian/Sakamoto’s “Forbidden Colours” has been beamed into space and then returns as a distant spectral echo, a slow-mo dream walk to infinity.
It probably wouldn’t be a true Sunday Records compilation without The Proctors. “Cellophane” hits the ‘cathedrals of sound’ end of the spectrum, driven by gently shuffling drums with guitars expertly hovering just the right side of searing, it’s a frozen, poignant gem.
They Go Boom!! Hand down a vintage 1990 track. Unknowing was rescued from an old cassette tape and is a masterclass in minimalistic lo-fi beauty in stark contrast to what you might expect.
Teen Idle contribute “Dreaming” from the excellent Insomniac Dream mini album, appearing here in alternate stripped-down form. A lonely piano sketches a series of poignant scenes destined to remain unresolved, floating in the air.
As a bonus on the cassette version, The Proctors are back to toughen up the sound a little and cheekily add just the odd touch of vocals (it’s fine – rules are made to be bent) with “Love Should Not Treat You this Way“.
The good news is that nothing here sinks into self indulgence or overstays it’s welcome, all tracks managing to serve the greater whole without losing their identity. Don’t worry – boring it’s not.
There are too few genuine musical labours of love out there, but it’s clear this is one. It seems fitting it was a project first dreamt up by Sunday Records boss, Albert, right back at the beginning of the label in the early 90s and here it finally comes to fruition. As well as cd and download the existence of a cassette may feel like a hipster affectation but actually fits for what feels like a lovingly put together old school mix tape, if only it came in a hand crayoned cover…
Beautiful Music is available, without prescription, to soothe troubled souls – for maximum effect, apply using headphones. In conclusion: collapse into this.