The artist known as Gentle Nature is a Los Angeles-based musician who has just released his five-song EP What Could Have Been.Though his Bandcamp page tags his music as alternative, psychedelic and soul, Gentle Nature was going more for a vibe than a specific genre. That said, the artist mentions Issac Hayes, Wu-Tang Clan, Pink Floyd, David Axelrod, Tame Impala, Portishead and Al Green as influences.
This EP also is something of an anomaly in our current age, as the artist tracked his instruments onto a Teac 4-track reel-to-reel machine, which was the gold standard for home recording in the ’70s and '80s. He then copied these tracks to Ableton for arrangements and mixing. The result is a collection of instrumentals that have the warmth of analog but with digital clarity. (The cover, a facsimile of a vinyl record complete with cover wear, also reinforces this aspect.) The artist has apparently played everything himself, including drum kit, which is impressive. “I focused most of my time on the drums and bass to get that sound locked in,” he states. “Since everything was recorded to analog tape it created that vintage vibe I was searching for. The recording process was challenging since I recorded everything by myself. There is some human error involved which adds character to the music.”
Initially this collection reminded me of a soundtrack to a low-budget movie Quentin Tarantino might enjoy. The quavery keyboards and live drums truly recall a bygone era, as does the unhurried pace and the arrangements within the tunes.
“This Place” opens with laid back, nicely-played electric guitar bathed in reverb for a simple two-chord melody, followed by retro-sounding keyboards during the “chorus” section; a nice opening at barely two minutes. “Daybreak” conjures more of a mid-’70s soul feeling with understated wah wah guitar and electric organ. The bass carries more weight here, placed smartly within the mix and with just enough melodic material.
“Musings” feels a bit more ’80s while still retaining that “Gentle” vibe. Again the melody is simple and understated, but mellow and enjoyable. “White Satin” sounds like a distant cousin to Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Its slow, shimmering guitars feel like the part of the movie where our hero walks along the beach, tips his hat to a girl and winds up spending the afternoon with her.
“Almost Home” is of course the final track: it begins with a simple four-note melody with quiet, mellow embellishments on the guitar and keyboards. The main melody never changes, even as the drums drop out completely for the middle section. Hate to say it again but this is perfect movie music, if only for a movie in your mind.
The only real problem I had with this collection is that it’s so short, but we can always hope for longer productions in the future.
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