I wanted to start the New Year with something nice, pleasant and life asserting. I’m sure later on I will go back to gloom and doom, to darkness and bleakness, to decay and I’m getting carried away 🙂 But it is the beginning of 2012, I have a baby on the way and it’s been an incredibly mild winter so far here in Chicago, so I want to keep this momentum of overall goodness going as long as possible. Luckily I have a lot of friends who either create great music or distribute such. One of those good friends is *export label, and their new release Blossom – Blue Balloons is just what doctor ordered. It’s a mild, dreamy, flowy album that glides effortlessly on skillful guitar samples and jazzy melodies. But it isn’t a bunch of stretched-out shapeless watered down ambient pieces (if it was it wouldn’t even make it to the pages of trippin’ the rift). Blue Balloons is a very clean, focused album, and no, it doesn’t contradict anything that I said above. Because you can keep dreaminess and flowiness with mellow guitar, crystal bells and light jazzy sax, but still keep everything from turning into boring mush with the sharp beat. And beat is not just playing this supplemental structuring role, it is definitely an important part of Blossom‘s style. Heck, there’s even a track named “Nightbeat” (no guitar on that one, Beat is the King). It’s a truly harmonious record – all parts of it are equally important and interdependent. Lately I found myself getting increasingly tired of albums that are something”-driven”. “Oh, this is a wonderful piano-driven album,” – yeah, maybe the piano is pretty great, but the non-driving part is usually just a generic trite afterthought, baggage that weighs the “driver” down and just is plain annoying. None of that garbage on Blue Balloons. It’s so well put together that it feels like it’s played on one magical instrument that just sounds like many different ones. And there sure are many different ones (if they are live or digital is hard to tell for my non-expert ear) – guitar isn’t the only one providing strings, there’s magnificent cello and bass that brings some of the very fitting darkness into the atmosphere (those balloons are blue after all); there’s piano and flute and percussion galore. It’s hard for me to determine if there is a story that the album tells. It’s very abstract but in the way that the sky is abstract – is the sky trying to tell a story? No, and that’s just it – it’s not trying to tell anything, it’s not trying period – it’s just there, and it’s endless, nuanced and beautiful. I definitely recommend multiple listens of Blue Balloons and on a good pair of speakers, it will evolve from “another jazzy downtempo record” into a delicate fragile masterpiece. Download the album for free (or purchase a limited edition CD with beautiful artwork) from *export label.

R.I.Y.L. Suba, Bonobo, tropical sunsets
personal favs: “Eternaldream”, “Three Isles”, “Blue Balloons”

★★★★☆ tipkin’s rating

Blossom – Blue Balloons by luBlossom

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