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Listening Booth: A Semi-Regular Series

Field Rituals
Koen Holtkamp
Type Records

This is the debut album from Holtkamp, who has gotten well-known as one-half of the ambient duo Mountains. Holtkamp utilizes twinkly field recordings (children playing), warped-phased-finger-picked guitar playin’, and the (usual) panned waves and squiggles. It is the sort of cultivated rustic fuzziness for non-dancing ambient fans. The album will endure comparisons to Boards of Canada and being described as “warm” and “organic-like.”

Field Rituals deserves better. I am not a huge ambient guy. I dig one of these albums about every three years: Boards of Canada, Mum, Piano Magic, Hood . You want a band that will match the coming cold front—you could do no better than Hood. You want a record that will blend well with your daily walk or green-line ride? This is it.

I road tested Field Rituals a few weeks ago. The album blended so well with my shuddering Metro ride, the squeaking brakes, the idle chatter of bored commuters. I wanna say it enhanced by boring slog to Chinatown. The album insists you listen hard, that you take it seriously; it’s not dinner music.

But Field Rituals songs aren’t endurance tests, requiring the listener to figure out each pixel, each shivering note. You’ll try just the same. Be patient. The songs work like time-lapsed photography. Except they grow without building, without ramping up the tension (like guitar squall, bigger and bigger beats). or even conventional resolution. They’re like a series of moments, unfolding and folding, unfolding and folding. So yeah, be patient.