Jeremy Young’s Amaro is oxygen for the ambient music fan.
How does someone write about ambient music? It can be so experimental yet inoffensive, and this musical contradiction is certainly worthy of ink, but it’s so difficult to describe. Good ambient music feels physical, it takes up space around you, transports you to a wholly other plane. It can lull you into a hazy dreamlike state. It can dissolve into thin air and yet be so endlessly interesting. Writing to ambient music comes easy, but writing about ambient music feels staggeringly impossibile.
I’d like to tell you about Amaro by Jeremy Young. I really would. The Montréal based electronic artist worked hard on this strange and captivating collection of soundscapes and I’d love to write a cohesive review about it. I’d love to tell you how Young collaborated with other great electronic composers and poets to put this project together, but I’d just be uselessly name-dropping. I’d love to write about how he tunes his oscillators microtonally, but I don’t really understand what the hell that means. I’d like to write about how his instrumental arrangements include pinecones, film projectors, and bicycle wheels, but it doesn’t explain the way these things fit into his elegant compositions. I’d like to tell you about how the percussion is bizarre and exploratory while not being too distracting. I’d like to tell you about how the crackly, organic loops bring a warmth to otherwise cool and crisp instrumentals. But I’m stuck. Writing about good ambient music is like trying to write about oxygen, it would either be full of jargon or far too abstract and romantic.
Amaro is an example of oxygen-like electronic music. Young and co. twist and distort familiar, worldly sounds on Amaro to create otherworldly environments. The scratching of surfaces or the sounds of human voices are stretched and pulled, molded like clay. This technique creates a vast space of alien unpredictability that still feels smooth. Electronic composers are often called explorers, but that doesn’t feel right. Here, Young is the architect and the listeners are the explorers. You can discover new textures and sounds with every listen. The album is a labyrinth that I find myself wandering through, searching for some ancient and lonely creature that lives inside the maze, moving through the music.
I would isolate certain tracks and write about them, but it would be violent. Subjecting this record to too much language is wrong. You can zone out to Amaro or listen to it intently. You can read to it, and even sleep, walk, relax, meditate or write to it. The difficulty is in describing it.