Justin Walter Unseen Forces
Published Apr 24, 2017To describe how Justin Walter makes his music gives only a vague idea of what it might sound like, but let's try anyway: He loops and layers improvised melodies made mostly on the trumpet and the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), a rare wind-controlled analog synthesizer from the 1970s. The results are sublime.
The EVI has a warm, warbly sound, evoking a similar sort of moody nostalgia to Boards of Canada's less sinister stuff. The melodies have a pleasant, wandering feel, diatonic enough to follow along but freeform enough to lose oneself in. The press release actually offers a great description of this sound: "Shape-shifting watercolors of pastel haze, lit by the soft synthetic glow of electric breath."
Walter plays with patience and grace that allow the listener room to think and feel, but he never lets go completely. While one of Brian Eno's latest works was culled from an app that generates music from an uncaring algorithm, Walter's music still sounds like he cares very much. There is intention here, however gentle. Even the structure of the album seems thoughtfully curated to patiently woo us at first, then get more playful with distortion and faster rhythms in the middle, and finally lull us to our final destination — be it transcendence, sleep or something in-between. (Kranky)