John Beltran: Amazing Things (Delsin)
A bit of a curveball from Delsin given their recent focus on all things warehouse and techno. John Beltran deserves the special treatment, though, as his legacy reaches pretty far back into the 90s, having demonstrated time and time again his knack for not only tight electronic production but also lush and complex writing. Amazing Things lives up to its name with a rich optimism reflected in its gorgeous arrangements. This music falls rather squarely outside of techno completely, landing somewhere closer to downtempo IDM or a score. Many tunes combine electronic elements with guitar and drums to create a result that’s more tender, more human. “Retrouvailles” starts things off like a hazy dream, recalling the ethereal sounds of the Caretaker, but from there Beltran takes us on a journey through both gorgeously ambient tracks and lushly arranged, more full-bodied pieces. “Clouds Pull” and “Esperanto” are both layered, momentous pieces with a full rhythm section (with a jazz slant), piano, strings, and wordless vocals, a lovely complement to more abstract and intimate beatless pieces like “Medellin,” “The Second I Wake,” or “For Vangelis.” Occasionally Beltran gets his feet wet in the more electronic and dance music side of the spectrum, finding a handsome groove on “Seasons Go” or the second version of “Second Summer,” but by and large the arrangements here sound more acoustic and humanized than one might expect, particularly from a label like Delsin. Beltran’s arrangements fall closer in line with an act like Four Tet, I’m Not a Gun, or Notwist than any typical techno comparison. It’s a gorgeous journey from start to finish. Beltran has created the perfect album for lazy, summer daydreaming.