First, put the music that is about to be reviewed on. Second, make sure you're wearing headphones. The Quiet Landscape is a study in subtlety and you will need to pay attention to what you're listening to. Third, make sure that you've got noise-cancelling headphones on because, otherwise, you're brother who is next to you listening to that Daft Punk single again is going to leak his music in and ruin what would otherwise be a nice experience. I don't own noise-cancelling headphones.
Brendan J Boyd (aka bjb) is a musician from Adelaide, Australia who splits his creative energy between illustration, cartoon work and music. He creates his sonic landscapes using a mix of software, hardware and found sounds. Using texture and sparseness to convey emotion, rather than melody, you're left with a soundtrack that would not be out of place in film. In fact, it would be serviced by some sort of sweeping visual, but more on that later. The music is very cinematic and reminds me of the work of Michel Gondry, even if that's probably wrong. I also find myself experiencing that same sense of wide-open space that accompanies the quiet moments of bands like Sigur Ros. Bjb does a great job of channeling his influences in a subtle way that doesn't sound like a derivative or pastiche.
Of the six tracks here, the standout is definitely the title track, “The Quiet Landscape” which features waves and birds chirping amid the warm synth tones. But to be completely honest, I like it the most because it is the track that feels like something actually happens. It's like walking from the beach to a cove full of birds and then finding yourself back on the street and feeling refreshed.
While the EP is absolutely solid as a study in creating ambience and focusing on texture, at the end of the day, a lack of melody results in a listening experience that fails to capture one's attention and hold it. That isn't to say that it's bad, I just feel like I'm being led somewhere musically but I never get to arrive at the destination. The feeling of stasis would be relieved by the addition of a film - something that gives one the satisfaction of having experienced a journey.
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