Music to escape to. It's what you're escaping from, or where you want to escape to, that often decides how you perceive music. It's what makes it so subjective and personal.
It's why I love the phrase 'A Strangely Isolated Place'. We all live in a busy world, where everyone is just a button away. But you can be stood in the middle of Times Square, or on a 7.34am commuter train to London Kings Cross, and escape to somewhere completely different, with the right type of music.
This train of thought inspired Matt Preston aka Phaeleh's, latest album Illusion Of The Tale. If the title alone didn't give it away, then dig deeper. Seventeen tracks long, Matt created the album as a way of saying ... "take some time to chill the fuck out. I want the album to be an escape from everyday lives. I want it to be a soundtrack for people to let go.” He's describing the daily illusion given off from social media and the facade that everyone is hiding behind, but the common thought is the same - ambient music helps you do this, switch off, go some place else - ignore the bullshit.
With such a powerful inspiration you're sat hear now wandering how intense the music must have to be to achieve this, but whereas some people need complex rhythms, loud noises and patterns to get lost in, Matt has opted for the simplicity and emotion of ambient and electronica that just edges, pushes, nudges you along to new places - a gentle journey that envelopes and folds, cushions and lifts you off to your destination of choice.
Seventeen delicate tracks comprising of live synth recordings, Matt has also incorporated piano recordings, field recordings, outtakes from live shows, and in one instance, a track "made from his thumb holding the end of a cable running through a pedal board, then looped and pitched down.". Some have an emotional efficacy of someone like Mark Pritchard, in tracks like Frequency, some a dense and intriguing texture of heavier drone musicians in Absence Of Light, whilst others like Blue Night, shift a little more into gentle beats, echoing the likes of Solar Fields and Carbon Based Lifeforms. We're even treated to some space-esque vintage sci-fi synthesizers in District, my favorite from the album.
Despite the numerous electronic styles, there's an overarching sense of similar emotion. It's never too dark, never too euphoric, and each track could've easily progressed into either territory. It's a dynamic sound that is easily taken one way or the other, which is why the album does what Matt set out to achieve. If there was a specific arc, or tracks that peaked, then you're often being taken along a predetermined journey, but with Illusion of the Tale, it's a story decided by you, the listener. On a good day, you'll go one way, on a bad day, another. Put it on shuffle and add a fourth dimension. With every listen you'll find something new and travel someplace else.
Available on Bandcamp.
Read more on Phaeleh and listen to a recent ambient mix on The Ransom Note