teddybare - audiopace
Teddybare grew up on an island the size of England in western Canada inhabited only by strange hairless birds (with him as the exception). He learned their traditions and their games and, more importantly, their songs. This is where his style of music comes from.
That's the biography Teddybare sent us. When you approach someone like that and you want them to listen to your music, you better have some certifiably cool shizz to offer. I was totally ready to hate this six-track EP, Audiospace, based on Teddy's origins alone. Then And Relax Don't Worry began playing and I thought that this would have to be a positive review after all. The individual behind this slightly offbeat ambient pop is the very normal-named Todd Wayne Schmid. He fancies himself an acolyte of weird, warm electronic music, citing acts such as Boards of Canada, Tortoise and Tangerine Dream as inspirations. I can get down with this, because Audiopace itself, while best played in the velvet awning of after-midnight, is a weird, warm electronic album. Surprise!
"And Relax Don't Worry" is what I call a converter track. It features liquid-smooth, drawn-out beats, perceptible but not intrusive shuffling sound effects and Schmid's auto-tuned or whatever vocals, that sent me into a state of ambivalence. Initially I thought they had no place existing, but repeated listenings reveal a welcome, and relaxing addition to the song. And then further listenings make me think of the former…The voice is indeed a tough sell. It has presence the same way that a loudmouth co-worker with the need to share opinions and who wears bad perfume or aftershave has presence. It's there but you don't really want it to be. But maybe that co-worker is a good person who's just insecure and has good intentions? His voice is like that, and the tracks are best when unaccompanied by it. The exceptions are the opener and closer, "Positive and Happy and Asleep." The last track is almost disappointing because the way Schmid uses his voice is so good compared to the EP's other missteps, juxtaposing his voice on top of itself asking, "What is all that you know? What is it that makes you feel this way?" under a raincloud of ambient noise and shaky electronics.
There are more contentious moments to choose from: "Put the Night Away" leads in with nebulous, flattened synth lines that let the music rise and fall, save for a supremely annoying clacking sound that I thought was a tree branch blowing outside my room. It's a stupid decision musically but by the song's end craziness reigns and there are breaks, inverted beats, etc. Teddybare can also Brian Eno the hell out of his music, such as on "Pause,” which sounds like an outtake from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
Audiopace is definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Some of the ideas seem trifling and other ideas clash terribly with the music, which is like taking a class called How To Not Make Ambient Music 101. Despite this, Teddybare aces his final, submitting his paper as "Exercises in Variegating Sonic Textures and Sounds.”
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