Published Mar 02, 2016Petrol, the third full-length from L.A.-based Brian Allen Simon (aka Anenon), arrives roughly a month after the opening of his performance series at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, a year-long project co-curated with fellow artist Nick Malkin.
Petrol is similarly collaborative, with percussionist Jon-Kyle Mohr providing a rhythm section that nicely complements Simon's alternately ethereal and disquieting synth work. It's an approach that successfully pairs the synthetic with the organic, and when Simon's own breathy, Blood Orange-esque sax is added to the mix, it becomes clear that there's a very jazzy heart beating at the centre of this ostensibly ambient album.
This is most apparent on tracks like "Once" and "Machines," which feature ambient pads and processed jazz drumming reminiscent of early Squarepusher, or when the shimmering synths drop out at the end of "Lumina" to reveal the softly thrumming rhythm section beneath. Jazz leanings aside, the dreamlike pads of "Mouth" recall Aphex Twin's more ambient work, and the lonely freeway sounds that open and close the album strongly evoke similar sampled-sound layering by M83.
Anenon manages these influences deftly, never allowing them to overshadow his own artistic vision, and his sax playing lends the album an authorial stamp all its own. Petrol mixes ambient and free jazz with satisfyingly cohesive results. (Friends of Friends)