The Soft Pink Truth - Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?
May 6, 2020 (updated May 7, 2020)
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I tend to be somewhat picky with my choice of ambient music; I usually gravitate toward the more experimental side of the genre, typically consisting of some Tim Hecker, and a dash of the early cluster. Other than that, I don't usually listen to some of the more straightforwardly relaxing material that Brian Eno invented or the dreamy, pillowy material of say, a Harold Budd. While I am not against that music, I don't find myself returning to it for several reasons. Mostly because of the more electrifying and memorable instances that I experience with Tim Hecker and Clusters music. Nevertheless, I am always game to hear any new ambient records generally because of how scarce a solid release can be. This new record by Matmos mastermind Drew Daniel is an exploration into ambient music or ambient techno to be more specific. If inventive music had a definition, indeed, Matmos would be listed directly under it. They masterfully include elements of found sounds, unlikely sonic pallets, and construct rhythms from obscure objects. This type of ingenuity within music is what I'm always on the lookout. However, here on this new album, Drew refrains from his usual venture into obscure sounds and unlikely material trading it for an ambient based album.

Shall we go on sinning is interesting because it seems to take bits and pieces from every corner of the ambient world, lofty vocals clash with eternal synth passages and more relaxing sounds of water mix with minimalist piano vamps. Pinning down what style of ambient it borrows from the most is challenging, to say the least, and results in its somewhat messy layout. The main reason I found myself disappointed throughout my several listens with this album was the usage of almost cliche and stereotypical cues surrounding ambient music. Never does the album venture into unexplored territory, songs pass with a familiarity of other records. Boring ambient techno with a repetitive uptempo 4/4 beat makes up "We" as phased synths circle around it. Vocal samples meander aimlessly atop a drowned piano submerged under the sounds of lapping water. "Sinning" however is a remarkable track opening with a melancholy piano, into what eventually unfolds into a complicated collage of twinkling sounds. "So" picks up the uneventful blandness, and closer "May Increase" ended on somewhat of a dated-sounding note.

What I enjoyed about this album was the marriage of acoustic and electronic elements throughout, which could have been used so much more effectively. I longed for more sax lines, more originality, and more diversity. I wanted to love this album, but I found I simply couldn't because of how often I found myself being reminded to other ambient releases, instead of the one at hand.
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