Christian Löffler: Young Alaska (Ki Records)
Christian Löffler follows up his superb A Forest album on his own Ki Records with this equally lush sophomore effort. Young Alaska reprises most of the sounds and styles found on A Forest but does so more elegantly, more concisely. For starters, Young Alaska is only 8 tracks at 42 minutes, as opposed to A Forest’s 13-track, 80-minute sprawl, so it feels more approachable by default. But the sounds themselves aren’t so much a departure, really. There’s something quaintly home-spun about Löffler’s arrangements for electronics, often sounding as though he’s sampled household objects and surfaces for his sounds rather than synthesizing them outright or using conventional drum samples. It has this flawed, human sound in common with some of Matthew Herbert’s late 90s Around the House tracks or some of Glitterbug’s more pastoral dance music excursions, but Löffler has a distinct style of composition that feels at once familiar and refreshing and easy.
The gloomy, smooth compositions of many of the tracks here feel somehow interchangeable, all likeable parts of one whole rather than discrete tracks. “Roman,” for instance, has a beautiful almost handmade melody along with a variety of quiet bedroom sounds, but it still has the form and function of dance music, sounding not unlike the more chilly moments of Trentemøller’s excellent 2005 album, The Last Resort.
Many of Young Alaska’s tracks feature floating vocal samples and phrases, like the airy operatic lilt of “Veiled Grey” or the swirling wordless swoon of “Mt. Grace.” Likewise, “Notes” is a shifty and emotive track that works just as well at home as it probably would on a PA. It’s a healthy balance of heart and body, elegant but unafraid to break a sweat.