Alaskan Tapes 
Who Tends a Garden 

Nettwerk • 2023

On his seventh album, Alaskan Tapes finds new and exciting ways to immerse listeners into his ambient world.

If it was possible to create the ideal soundtrack for intimate spaces, Toronto’s Brady Kendall, who records as Alaskan Tapes, would know how to do it. Since 2016, he has created gorgeous and textured ambient music that has won that has built an international fanbase and millions of streams.  On his seventh album, Who Tends a Garden, he shows why he has been at the forefront of a recent ambient resurgence and has become one of the most beloved artists in the genre.

The domination of streaming services in the past few years has allowed artists like Alaskan Tapes to find broad audiences looking for calming background music that functions beautifully in the background. On some of these playlists, tracks might be simple and unassuming yet arresting. And so many of them owe many debts to the template Kendall built. On Who Tends a Garden, he uses the same subtle yet sophisticated framework while injecting new and creative musical ideas. On “(Who Tends a Garden),” the sound of a pitch-shifted trumpet temporarily stands out and returns into the fold enough to draw in the listener. Synth and guitar swells fade into minimal piano. “Still Dividing and Dividing Still” offers a rush of drone textures before moving into a sparse, slowly pulsating synth melody. Kendall’s attention to these subtle details has made his music resonate with so many listeners.

Ambient music is at the meeting point between neoclassical, electronic, post-rock, and experimental styles. Who Tends a Garden balances Kendall’s influences within the aforementioned genres across its nine tracks. Kendall finds different sounds and elements to frame the album like a story, with piano playing a more prominent part on early tracks and longer drone pieces taking over the album’s back half. For several years, Kendall has hosted a Spotify playlist called Songs To Get Lost In, and it’s a genuinely spot-on descriptor for the nine-minute penultimate track, “Swimming and Dancing and Floating In Circles,” which moves slowly and subtly, filling the quiet with just the right amount of sound.

Alaskan Tapes has continued to add to his impressive discography. On Who Tends a Garden, he finds new and exciting ways to incorporate various sounds and influences into gorgeous ambient music that feels primed for a quiet winter day staying inside to read a book. Almost as if the album’s January release was planned that way.

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Harley Alexander 
Universal Love 2