This week’s column focuses on endless cityscape music, the kind that makes you want to find a hover car and swoop between neon billboards in a futuristic urban sprawl. Nobody is better at this kind of thing than 2 8 1 4, whose Birth of a New Day album starts with the plaintive synths and pianos from the Blade Runner soundtrack and turns up the bass. It’s utopian and dystopian all at once, and in a rain-soaked metropolis like Portland, this stuff works wonderfully.
The anonymous Brit who records as Burial strips down his sound to vinyl crackle and haunted samples on his new EP, Antidawn. Depending on how much your enjoyment of his work hinges on the distinctive, jerky drums he’s jettisoned here, this is either Burial’s best or most boring recording to date. But by letting his productions simply drift, he’s penetrated closer to the heart of his sound than ever before—and made a hell of a soundtrack for your next late-night bus ride.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a movie where synthesizers pulse as a strong but silent hero navigates neon-lit streets, the spirit of the late, lamented Chromatics is close by. This year, the flagship band of Portland’s Italians Do It Better label—and the original choice for the influential Drive soundtrack—celebrates the 10th anniversary of their magnum opus Kill for Love, a sad and sprawling album of synth pop so richly atmospheric it feels like ambient music.
Liumin Reduced by Deepchord Presents Echospace consists of little more than distant drones and field recordings from Tokyo, perhaps the most endless of all cityscapes. The album beautifully captures the feeling of being lost while gazing out a window at distant lights. So many things happen at any given time in a city, and yet from a distance, it all feels so still. Liumin Reduced understands this feeling intimately.