Here's one of those times when being behind the ball a bit helps. Given my distance from beaunoise's latest release, there was a buffer to keep his output separate from anything he's made as a member of the shadowy Orquesta run by Clive Tanaka. The overwhelmingly rich soundscapes would immediately wipe any comparisons (etc.) away instantly, sure, but it was a great pleasure to be able to come into this tape absolutely fresh. It also helps that I was all but unaware of how many albums he's had a hand in that I've listened to and enjoyed already. Throw in a digital version prepared from a cassette rip and everything is set to make the sort of album that can hold attention and make notice be taken. Transcending mere “music to fill a space” and becoming “music as soundtrack” for any circumstance, Ambient One demands attention but doesn't require it in the best way possible.

There resides some special power in a good ambient album; more than just the ability to envelop completely and soothe, but to transport and entrance. Like a fine novel or a well put together film, beaunoise's talent for slowly evolving synth and keyboard arrangements manage to take you somewhere else for the 40 minute running length. With a closer kinship to Basinski's Melancholia and Disintegration Loops (especially II and IV) than fellow Portlanders White Rainbow and Golden Retriever, the focus is on the process as much as the sound. Thick saturation aids the organic feel, organically reprocessing everything and aiding the surrounding quality of the mix. This is the honest sort of music that sees birth from solitude and care; gentle and emotional discourses with the interior. In the time of pop that co-ops haute couture and bastardizes high art and the lowest of brows, the saving grace of pure sound has been something to turn to more often than not. Ambient One gets high marks for that sort of endeavor, the act of creation for oneself as a catalyst leading to the realization of readiness for others. In order to make art for the world you must make art for yourself, a cyclic turn of the ars gratia artis conundrum/paradigm. And while the above mentioned artists do embody that sensibility in their own ways, beaunoise approaches the creative process on this release with restraint and measure as remarkable and singular as the sound created. Inventiveness with instruments both exotic and banal drives the slower moments of the tape as well, a Rhodes appears and then slips back to the rear, effected and recorded with care and attention to detail, what sounds like some sort of ARP synth wafting in and out occasionally here and there to become part of the scheme, and the reverb and delay units chosen never go beyond their normal call of duty, with the focus always being on the performance and not the way those performances are effected. The end result (as should be clear, or at least I would hope so) is ridiculously engrossing and, dare I say it, sensuous affair for the ear and mind.

This is the kind of ambient release that spurns my hope. Modern ambient usually either inundates itself with boring music or is frustratingly spare for truly amazing artists, and the artists who make truly stunning sound are often buried between mediocre attempts at Eno compositions. At least three more Ambient tapes are planned, and beaunoise contributed to Tanaka's delightful (and incredible) remix of Groundislava's 'Panorama' so he's not going anywhere for a while. It's a good thing since his approach is refreshing and yet not foreign, the sound of comfort and warmth even in the coldest of moments. It could just be the tape saturation, but I'll hold fast to this as a sign of the talent of beaunoise. Never trying and always breathtaking, Ambient One is the perfect way to wait out an April shower (as I have many times), read a book, or just have on, even if you don't want to wholly listen you'll find yourself paying rapt attention.