For about two decades The Cry, the hitherto-only Placid Angles LP released on Peacefrog way back in 1997, appeared to be a one-off. John Beltran clearly felt he’d said all he needed to say with the project, and The Cry’s ambient breakbeat techno stood as the sole Placid Angles full-length. What a surprise, then, to find out that Beltran has followed up The Cry twenty-two years later. First Blue Sky is a similar set of tracks, all warm pads and 808s, and it finds itself right at home on Lone and Gabriola’s Magicwire (Gnork, Project Pablo).
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First Blue Sky is such a good follow up album to The Cry - albeit 22 years later. If you were to plunk First Blue Sky into the '90s it wouldn't be too far out of place. John Beltran has a way of recreating a nostalgia that never existed, a lust for events that didn't happen or time and place that can only be visited in your imagination. I'm a bit of a sucker for melodic electronic music and each track on this record acts like a craving suppressant, reminding me that everything will be okay. If First Blue Sky was a coffee, it would have notes of jungle, IDM and ambience cushioned by soft, soothing synths with an occasional hint of old-school rave sampled vocals. A very fine coffee, indeed.
'Earth and Everything' is a particular favourite of mine and is the reason I went and bought the actual LP, and didn't just stream it online. It reminds me of late summer nights at university after going out into Leeds and coming back early hours to see the sun rising. There's just something about the way Beltran has crafted this track that makes me happy-sad, but I just can't put my finger on it. It's truly magical.
If you haven't heard of Placid Angles before, I'd say that if you're a fan of Aphex Twin through to Overmono, Rian Teanor and Nkisi you'll love First Blue Sky. A great album and very worthy of an upper end 9/10.
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- First Blue Sky by Placid Angles (John Beltran)
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