Sometimes the best albums are those that evoke the strongest emotions. Furthermore, it is quite unique when listening to a section of music for the first time and it invokes a specific emotional response, and even more unique when it does that consistently with each piece.
The Great Long Distance, the latest album from UK based John D. Reedy, offers a beautifully melancholic, highly impassioned ambient album full of slowly evolving textures and pensive chord progressions. In twelve songs meant to represent the twelve months out of the year, he presents his listeners with an aural representation of a long-distance relationship, giving us both the peaks and the valleys.
The first thing I would like to touch on is the production; although the album “was written over a 12 month period in 2015 as a one-man bedroom project on a shoestring budget,” it sounds excellent. Actually, it sounds epic. If I were to have blindly guessed after listening, I would have assumed it was written, recorded and produced in a top-tier studio. The balance between delicacy and power in regards to the instrumentation was only complemented by the production quality, allowing Reedy’s songwriting ability to shine. Songs such as “We Remain” and “Dreams of Budapest” illustrate this well. I oftentimes found myself entranced by what I was hearing so much so that I forgot I was even reviewing something.
I also really enjoyed the style of songwriting Reedy employed— making frequent use of countermelodies, he really has a knack of fitting a lot of different elements into a single song, doing so in a way that sounds effortless and natural. Furthermore, the relationship between electric and acoustic sounds on this album is what I think gives it its characteristic sound; since it has the warmth of acoustic instruments yet the ambience and atmospheres of electric instruments, the album really has the ability to make an emotional impression upon the listener.
Reedy’s use of reverb on The Great Long Distance is excellent. Oftentimes with ambient albums, the producers feel the need to soak absolutely everything, and the end results comes out rather muddy. On the contrary, I really enjoyed how clear everything is on The Great Long Distance. There was enough space to allow the songs to breathe, yet at the same time everything sounded full.
Lastly, I just want to mention how accurately the album sounded in regards to its intention; keeping the idea of a long distance relationship in mind, I was able to clearly see how each piece fit into the overall puzzle. It sounded like a journey or story, and the fact that it is completely instrumental allowed me to put my own self into it. I definitely look forward to hearing what Reedy does in the future.
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