Thursday, May 28, 2020

Music Review //
Gabriel Birnbaum
"Nightwater"


https://gabrielbirnbaum.bandcamp.com/album/nightwater //

As the world went into lockdown in the year 2020, I myself was laid off and sent into my own lockdown on April 1st, 2020.   A week later, Gabriel Birnbaum released this album.    I first listened to this album through earbuds, while at the laundromat, right after it came out.   There is a post rock sense to some of these songs, which when you combine it with the fear and anxiety of people around you just creates such a moving picture.   I tend to relate music with images, even if I have to create them myself, but this one just seemed to so easily fit with the state of the world and could be seen just by looking out your window.

Sometimes these can feel like sound collages- pieces of sound put together to form an overall sound- but they still feel like songs, more deliberate in their delivery than just putting together scraps and hoping for a balanced meal.  The sad, solemn stretches of the third track provide you that idea of floating through the world aimlessly, without a care but not in a good way.   You want to have a sense of hope- not just now, but in general- and at times we may not feel that way and I think these songs can also reflect that.

The fourth song takes a turn into something between country and the beach, that line where Elvis Presley meets Johnny Cash.   It's dreamy and so it can help to lift your spirits while you watch all of the world go by in seemingly slow motion these days.   "Coupe glass, half full" on the other hand brings out some beats and smooth jazz-like sounds which remind me of that Phil Collins era of music.   It brings me back to simpler times, when I was younger and still felt a different sense of happiness. 

"Two small chipped mugs, turquoise" is the seventh song and it reminds me of "When The Saints Go Marching In" at times, then it slides into the next song which has a cool breeze feeling to it.   The ninth song has that Louie Armstrong waltz to it I can't quite explain, but it has an upbeat quality to it which makes me feel hopeful.   This goes into the calming, meditation strings on the tenth song. 

"Stack of unread books next to the bed" (which is really a way we all should live) has this outerspace lullaby way about the post rock of it.   At times, I do feel like I could peacefully fall asleep while listening to it, though it also does provide me with a bit of optimism, which I feel we could all really use right now.   The next song picks up with a bit more rhythm, closer to soul yet also it could be the end theme to a television series in the 1980's.

By the end of this, on the last two songs, the tones fade in and out and then it feels like we're walking through a town in the 8bit Old West.   It really makes me wish they'd update "Oregon Trail", and though the soundtrack to it might not exactly be this last song I imagine Gabriel Birnbaum could do a good job on creating a song for it.    When I started listening to this, I felt a sadness for the world and the music reflected that.   By the end of it, and as I sit here months later, I feel a sense of hope and that shines through in the music as well now. 

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