Vancouver’s Test Card creates mellow electronic soundscapes for the post-clubbing lifestyle.
In some ways, naming just about any album Patterns would be entirely appropriate and descriptive. Music often sounds best when it uses repetition, and we feel most satisfied when we hear familiar ideas in the same song. Patterns, a warm and pensive electronic album from Vancouver-based British ex-pat Test Card, both embraces and challenges its title.
Blending a combination of organic instruments (like acoustic and electric guitar) with pianos, synths, and drum loops, each track on Patterns takes relatively straightforward elements and combines them into songs that demonstrate skills in orchestration as well as restraint. Tempos are mostly on the slower side, with sparse and minimal percussion allowing instruments to be centred over the groove. In some ways, this music is mellower than what you might expect of chillout room ambient — it feels better suited for games night with the kids than a night out at the clubs. Across its ten tracks, Patterns moves cohesively as a whole. The track “(Seventeen guitars and one piano)” bisects the album with beautifully crisp acoustic guitars playing a nostalgic melody before leading into album highlight “Nowhere to fall but off,” a perfectly bouncy midtempo track.
What makes Patterns work so well is how deceptively simple it is. Test Card’s crisp production makes room so that each instrument is clearly audible, allowing the listener to dissect each component as the album flows along. Its ambient tendencies make Patterns a good fit for mellow background music, but a closer listen is just as rewarding.
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