Most helpful positive review
53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2010
It is no surprise that Washed Out's debut EP Life of Leisure makes more sense to anyone not born after 1990. It almost seems primed for listeners who were born or spent a significant part of their lives in the late 1980's and early 90's. First time listeners of the EP will be quick to note that the "sound quality" seems a bit off--many of the tracks sound as if they were originally cassette recordings which were probably shoddy copies of other cassettes. The entire album is a collage of these sorts of low-quality musical snippets, cut and pasted together in an almost sentimental manner. Life of Leisure sounds more like the musical equivalent of a graduating high school senior in the process of scrapbooking her childhood.
The premise surrounding the creation of Life of Leisure itself is nothing new. The album is a collection of obscure samples from a wide variety of places. The samples themselves are not necessarily "non-musical" samples--they seem more like soft tunes from 80's soap operas and television commercials. Sampling has been used over and over again in digital music. One of the predecessors to Washed Out's sound is most likely to have been Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry's musique concrete. Musique concrete, developed in the late 40's and 50's in France, utilized taped recordings and samples and mixed, spliced, split, and combined them together to create electroacoustic music. Washed Out seems unusually in touch with musique conrete--virtually all of their samples come from analog tape recordings with none of the music completely computer-generated.
Washed Out's use of samples is particularly unique, meant to invoke a certain nostalgia for those who lived through the 80's and 90's. Many of the samples are originally analog recordings from either cassettes or VCR tapes. The original cassettes and VCR tapes are then copied onto blank cassettes and VCR's, similar to music and video piracy of the old days. Anyone who has been alive to practice such bootlegging is familiar with the loss of sound and sampling quality associated with analog bootlegging. The samples and then cut, spliced, and combined together to make a "lo-fi" recording. It should also be noted that despite being around for only a year or two, this isn't Washed Out's first release, but it is their only digital release. They released a cassette-only EP back in September.
Washed Out's sound seems to create a certain atmosphere for the listener. To this end, they seem much more like ambient artists than many other sample-based artists. If one were to draw comparisons, Washed Out sounds a lot like the Brian Eno of the 80's if he had utilized cheesy 80's music recordings and commercials. Their single from the album, "Feel it All Around," reminds one of a childhood vacation to a beach resort. It's no surprise that the accompanying music video is purely a videotaped montage of the artists' and his wife's honeymoon. One Amazon reviewer had noted, "[The music takes me] to a place somewhere between childhood lake trips, hiding from my mom under clothes racks in department stores and that sublime bliss you have when you meet the girl of your dreams." Life of Leisure may be properly described as a less-dark version of DJ Shadow's revolutionary album Endtroducing..., utilizing only low-quality recordings from the 70's, 80's, and early 90's.
Life of Leisure is a modern-day derivative of musique concrete and ambient music, put together in such an artful manner that it evokes one of certain childhood memories and feel-good sunshine stories. For those who always romanticize the past and their childhood, Life of Leisure may be the perfect accompanying soundtrack.