Deep Dive into Extended Tracks

When I was in high school I’d scour the import sections of local record stores to find bands and records I’d never heard of. The word streaming didn’t exist then, and the only way to hear anything that didn’t crack the radio airwaves was to take a chance and buy it. Many proved to be brilliant gambles. One telltale sign I looked for on the credits of studio LPs was long tracks - 8 minutes or more, but especially full album sides. Long pieces were a sign of confidence, ideas and ambition, usually a good combination.

I’d take my haul home, lay the stylus at the top of the longest track and let it take me where it wanted me to go.

Photo by Sharon Pittaway via Unsplash

Photo by Sharon Pittaway via Unsplash

Here’s a quick tour of extended tracks from recent Right Brain Records releases.

Spontanea - “Deep Time”

Like all of Spontanea’s music, This track, the finale of the album Flow, was created spontaneously. The long section is a meditation, featuring Kenny Mandell’s saxophone. The title is interesting to me because this is the sort of piece that makes me completely lose track of time… There’s motion and gradually building drama, before it let’s us down gently. At which point we pass unexpectedly from dense sonic forest into a savanna of sorts, where processed guitar and harp revel in open space, before handing off to flute for a joyful sendoff.

VWAM - “Holiday on Earth”

VWAM covers vast territory on synthesizers, and this piece ambles calmly past the horizon. I feel thick, multi-colored ambient textures swirling around me throughout. To my ear, immersion in those textures is what VWAM is all about. Like the rest of the album (Amphibian Star) it calls home, “Holiday” manages to convey dark sounds in a lighthearted way, and this unrushed journey is especially satisfying.

5p6 - “Fata Morgana”

Fata Morgana is a visual effect common to the seas of the Pacific Northwest. To experience it on a summer afternoon is to understand the power of imagery that right brain music can have. This piece transforms itself several times. A mixture of live and mixed sounds, “FM” is a feast for the ears, notably through headphones. Consider that many of the sounds actually come from guitar. The long eastern-tinged violin solo in the middle highlights a feature of 5p6: novel co-mingling of old-world and synthesized sounds. It’s on the album Law of the Wavefront.

Bugs In The Basement - “Altica Ambiens”

BITB smashes the scale when it comes to extended tracks. This multi-instrumentalist duo records a weekly podcast, each of which is an individual live, improvised track that often extends well over an hour. Ironically, in album form, “Altica”, is their equivalent of a 45. To really understand the range and impact of Bugs In The Basement you need to hear several full sessions (which are, fortunately, available to the public). This track is unique because it’s a collage weaved together from three sessions, and it’s no less an ambient masterpiece. Beautifully subtle and surprising changes emerging gracefully and organically. To me this embodies the true spirit of unplugging the clock. Simply dive in and let it take you away…

Check out our extended track playlist through the month of January: Right Brain Records homepage, scroll down to the bottom right. Bon voyage.

Scott Schaffer