Not a name you’re likely to forget once you’ve stumbled upon his music, SMAIBLUE returns this season with a brand new album of beautifully complex yet delicate ambient journeys, and once again it’s a total pleasure to escape into.
That’s Enough Love Songs – See You Soon, is a unique collection in itself, thanks to the blissful arrangements, the provocative lyricism, and the opening featured vocals from Indonesian singer SYAUU.
Navigate breathes calming optimism into the room, entrancing listeners with a simple rising melody and a wave of audio warmth that perfectly directs you into the right state of mind for the project that will follow.
While lyrical, poetic ideas help paint specific pictures in some cases, there’s a vagueness here, an accessible intimacy, and this again paves the way well for the individual experiences set to follow. SMAIBLUE has a skillful manner of creating soundscapes that provide the listener with whatever they need in that moment. In this case, for many, perhaps it’s a little lift, a glimmer of light in a cold, dark month. Perhaps it’s also a sense of unity, of togetherness.
As things progress, natural rhythms follow an in-the-room aura – rather than something pre-determined or simply programmed. Dashes of piano take you back in time, balancing nostalgia with an overwhelming level of increasing brightness and energy. This is the aptly titled How It Feels When It’s Just Us Being Close – a stunning example of the power of thoughtfully crafted, intentional artistry. Not so much a meandering, evolving piece of music, but an ongoing breath of love and oneness.
Elsewhere SMAIBLUE presents equally considerate moments, fragments of ideas that are likely to mean something different to everyone who hears them. Last Love is a fine example, a minimalist performance captured in time, directed purely at you. Caught In September walks a similar pathway, a one-man-display of uncertainty and happiness all at once. Crimson Staircase fascinates and soothes all the more so. There’s a quietness to all of this, a select few layers make up the journey, and again there’s something nostalgic or vintage about this natural, honest approach.
Two Different Worlds stands out for its unexpected intensity. An epic, echoing progression accompanies a spoken word vocal with hints of unspecific melody. Your attention is held as if this were a piece of theatre or a crucial scene in an independent film.
Waltzing In A Factory works beautifully afterwords, a more complex trip hop progression with subtle, industrial hints of movement and life combined. Always SMAIBLUE masterfully encapsulates these ideas that spark his creativity.
During the final third, the musical pulse of the project becomes notably more hypnotic. Our Hidden Warmth lulls you into an unexpected state of meditation, even potentially sleep; a perfectly balanced collection of sounds, soaked in reverb, feeling far away and incredibly close at the same time. This is a rare kind of music that you can actually create your own art or music in the company of, without feeling distracted or overly influenced. It works for you, not against you.
At Her Favorite Spot invites organic piano and a descending vocal melody that quietly walk you through the snow – or wherever your mind first takes you, before suggestion. A simple song of observation, appreciation. Then The Way You Drift lowers the vocal tone and utilizes contrast to offer a sense of tiredness once again.
Glove injects a powerful hit of emotion into the journey – all the more effective when experienced at volume. A personal favorite. Then we get the equally emotive and revealing I Miss You to mark the end of this expressive, deeply human look at life – the complexity of the mind and the consistent, grounding rhythm of the heart. A soulful, characterful voice showcases a sense of realness that adds a whole new layer to the album. The lyrics are simple, fun yet loaded with truth and longing. A lovely way to end.
SMAIBLUE is one of the few artists who dives into the creative process with no expectations or pre-destined intentions – the music just is what it has to be, and this gives it a uniquely interesting quality. Beautiful.
Download the album via Bandcamp.