Sounding like The Gentleman Losers recording the skit tracks for Boards of Canada or Helios, Altars Altars is gentle, filled with tape warbles (because he put everything through a reel to reel), delicate plucked guitar, and awash with field samples and children playing. It’s dreamlike state, lying in a field in your youth ambient music. Loverly.
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Herein you’ll find Altars Altars making all the sounds that make sleepy warm drone fans want to applaud with tears. This gorgeous, slow and ever so distant record relies heavily on twanged-to-fuck guitars (twanged, in this sense, from the reel to reel tapes used), as if doing a Loren Connors reboot for a modern audience. These little, warped figures are then offered a pillow of ambiance to rest their head on and coupled with faraway mutters, conversations sampled so as just to sound like a lot of kind shouting. That’s the first eleven minutes of this album: shrouded niceness.
Of course, it came out on Home Normal, so ‘Small Hours’ was never going to be anything but warm, shiny and lovely. The record’s title track is a three minute piece -- a vignette, by the artist’s standards -- that patches together an almost proper riff with an echoing accentuation of fret-slides and a bedrock of hiss. “Balu” is a groaning whale song given an emotional key, while “Family’s Downstairs” takes the cake, with its tape-wound weirdness existing in the middle of a grand hallway, making for a sound both reverent and comforting. It’s that thing that good warm droners do: they make the place sound big, but only so lots of people can belong to it.
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