Deru: 1979 (Friends of Friends)
Benjamin Wynn a.k.a. Deru first made a name for himself in the 00s with IDM releases on Neo Ouija, Merck, and Mush. 1979 is his first album in a few years, and it’s gorgeous. As its title implies, this is music that looks to the dusty nostalgia of the past, though the techniques and styles found herein are not necessarily a throwback to another era. Instead, the quiet, introspective pieces of 1979 capture that feeling of a sun-faded photograph or a small cloud of dust reflecting in sunlight (as if opening an old book or photo album). It might tangentially draw comparisons to the likes of Boards of Canada, but I think there’s just as much of the heartbreaking soft-spokenness of Harold Budd’s delicate piano pieces or M. Geddes Gengras’s modular synthesis meditations in the sweet and sad sounds found here.
By and large, these are beatless, stark synth excursions with no shortage of tape surface noise, adding a hazy, warm dustiness to the whole thing. Only on “The Future Never Comes” does Deru incorporate some rolling percussion patterns, still understated and secondary to its undulating leads and pads, but with a more propulsive sense of momentum. It borders on sentimental, but there is a sweet sadness to most of 1979 that grounds it and makes it feel intensely intimate. I imagine that whether listening on a sunny, hot day or a snow-dusted winter morning, this is music that will continue to resonate on a level that’s deeply moving to me.