Is it possible to write for a music blog and not cover new music? I don’t know, but I haven’t been fired yet, so I am going to keep rolling. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s summer. That means it’s time for Endless Summer.
Fennesz’ Endless Summer has meant more than me than almost any seasonal record that comes to my mind. Why has it kept me captivated with such predictable regularity? I mean, I don’t listen to “Tuesday Afternoon” every… Tuesday afternoon. Released in 2001 on the Mego label, Endless Summer has been a staple of my summer listening, and I am always rewarded.
Endless Summer is a different kind of great record. The timeless clarity of Christian Fennesz’ laptop-processed guitar feels timeless. Not to overstate the importance of the album (cue shameless overstatement) but Endless Summer may be the closest thing to a Kind of Blue that I have seen in my lifetime.
“Made in Hong Kong” brings us into the record with the initial warmth of digitally processed guitar. The title track follows with its shifting emphasis between raw guitar chords and artificially manipulated sound. This is the surf music of the Sandals, the Beach Boys, etc. but warped into a subtly crafted artifice by a postmodern wizard. On top of that, the moment when the song pauses and the unfiltered chords pop out might be the most singularly beautiful moment on this record. “A Year in a Minute” could easily be my favorite song, and I always find myself playing it on repeat. There’s so much bubbling under the surface and then the track goes haywire. It’s striking. Following that, “Caecilia” is pure, unadulterated sonic bliss, almost to the point of being saccharine.
If there’s a flaw, it’s that the album doesn’t end there. While that may seem like a damning comment, I simply mean that the first four tracks would have been a flawless EP. “Got To Move On” picks up the second half of the album, however, without a struggle. It’s a great track in its own right. “Shisheido” is a lovely fragment that could have worked as a five to seven-minute piece; I’d go as far as saying that a little development to “Shisheido” could have bolstered the second half of the album. “Before I Leave” is a song that might take work to enjoy. I get it; it has its place; I’ve grown accustomed to it. “Happy Audio” is the 11 minute closer to the album that doesn’t quite close the album. My only real criticism would be to move “Happy Audio” between “Caecilia” and “Got To Move On” and making “Before I Leave” the closer. It plays better for me, strengthens the overall listening experience and makes more sense considering the synthesis of the analogue and digital sounds. The album ends better that way, in my humble opinion.
So yeah, I don’t really get it. I love the record, but my better instincts are screaming to cut the hyperbole. But I refuse to diminish the importance of the album to my sonic palate. There’s an aesthetic quality in the record that I have rarely seen. Certainly not in the field of straight electronic music. In the purest sense of Miles Davis, it was a new direction in music. I revisit it every Summer, and it never disappoints me. I hope you enjoy it!
Fennesz – Endless Summer
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Fennesz – A Year In A Minute