In the fractured, constantly evolving world of electronic music, it's tempting to prioritize the shock of the the new: the post-ironic zap of PC Music, the maximalist eclecticism of Hudson Mohawke, the sculptural zen of Oneohtrix Point Never. But sometimes old sounds can be worth revisiting, especially if they're molded by a particularly sure hand. Newcomer Gacha Bakradze, who hails from Tbilisi, Georgia and splits his time between Paris and his native city, isn't interested in carving out a signature, cutting-edge sound. Instead, his debut LP, Send Two Sunsets, floats atop a bath of well-worn nostalgia that, by definition (and purpose), asks little of its audience except to be soothed.
In his press materials, Gacha cites shoegazers Slowdive, German experimentalists Cluster, and Madchester mainstays the Durutti Column among his inspirations. Each touchstone is easy to spot—so easy, that, at times, Two Sunsets scans as an homage to its forebears. Like much of Cluster's ambient work, Gacha’s leans towards sounds that are unabashedly pleasurable to experience. The aptly titled "Bliss", featuring Natalie Beridze—a frequent collaborator of Gacha's who also performs under the name TBA—shifts between delicate synth-pop and ambient psychedelia. "Blue Distance", on the other hand, uses MIDI plugins seemingly discovered beneath Dire, Dire Docks or sourced from Cisco's "Opus Number 1" CallManager Muzak. Though Gacha employs those tools deftly, the spa-day palette recalls sounds that have also been mined by recent producers looking to revive new age in the new millennium; fans of How to Dress Well's "Ocean Floor for Everything" will recognize a shared sentimentality for 64-bit sequencing.
Send Two Sunsets comes on the heels of two EPs, Remember and When the Watchman Saw the Light, both released via Apollo Records, the ambient-leaning subdivision of R&S Records. R&S, aside from its roots in the Belgian New Beat scene of the mid-'80s, has released music from Aphex Twin, C. J. Bolland, and James Blake over the years. It's a label that carries three decades of history, yet continues to push the medium forward. (Recent signees include genre-benders like Lone and Tessela.) But it's clear from the beginning that Send Two Sunsets is more historical excavation than vanguard innovation—a position Gacha seems happy to occupy. Sunsets can largely be seen as a continuation of Gacha's previous two releases, whose tracks ebb and flowed with a similarly harmonious calm. (Just looking at the album cover will likely give you some idea of Gacha's palette, whose Mediterranean rhythms evoke the Balearic '80s at their most relaxed.)
Over the course of its relatively brief nine tracks, Send Two Sunsets oscillates between low-key house ("Street Talk"), bubbling ambient ("Blue Distance"), and meditative pop ("Send Two Sunsets"), but all share similarly aquatic presets. Album opener "Abandoned City" falls into the first category, with New Age arpeggios and no percussive elements to speak of. It's a sound that brings to mind Jürgen Müller's Science of the Sea, an album that had originally been marketed as a rediscovered record from the early '80s only to be revealed later to be a modern production.
Here, there's a similar feeling of productions that have been submerged and forgotten only to be unearthed decades later. "Waterfall", a gorgeous track that also features Beridze, shimmers like refracted sunlight. Then there's "Let Me Love You", an amalgam of deep house and deconstructed R&B that sets indistinct vocals amidst piano and understated percussion; repeat listens reveal a track not only exceedingly pretty, but disarmingly soulful. More often than not, Sunsets continues to reveal new facets the more time you spend with it, the familiar giving way to deeper emotional undercurrents just below the surface.
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