- Air Texture, a compilation series on New Yorker James Healy's ambient label of the same name, delivers something that should be presented in a gallery rather than a CD case. These collections are "curated" (in this edition by Deadbeat and DJ Olive) rather than mixed, and each installment has an image of contemporary art on the cover. Here it's a photograph of palm trees and an empty room overlooking the Pacific that at first glance could be the cover of a million chill-out compilations, but is actually an installation by artist Robert Irwin—quite fitting, given that Air Texture Vol. 3 has far more depth than so much two-dimensional ambient wallpaper.
Like Irwin's installations, this music appears to contain close to nothing if you don't know what you're looking for. There's a sense of stillness in something like Raz Mesinani's "Go Figure Skating" that makes you feel like you should hold your breath while listening, lest you shatter the atmosphere. As with much conceptual art, an understanding of the context helps. Air Texture Vol. 3 intends to highlight how experimental pioneers of '60s New York influenced today's Berlin-based electronic producers. Knowing this makes it easier to interpret Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer's "Pianofrap" as a tribute to John Cage's prepared piano pieces.
Prior knowledge of each artist's history can also put things in a new perspective. Anyone who knows Evynid Kang for Sunn 0)))'s obsidian metal might find the tranquil atmosphere of "Petrified Wood" surprising. Same goes for Thomas Fehlmann's "Embrace," whose title presumably refers to death's cold grip, given the track's slow skeletal rattle, unless Fehlmann is displaying the same wry humour that led Marina Rosenfeld to call her piece "A Track (With Beats)," or Blue Fields to bury a voice intoning "Wake up!" within their sleepy "Open Your Eyes." But it's only when you drop any conceptual baggage that Air Texutre Vol.3 reveals its true beauty, allowing you to enter the same fugue-like trance as the music itself.
CD 1: Deadbeat
01. Deadbeat - Laura Solaris
02. SHRUBBN!! - Echo 8|4
03. Loops of Your Heart - Like a Wolf
04. Blue Fields - Open Your Eyes
05. Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer - Pianofup
06. Hrdvsion - The No Face
07. Tobias. - Subterranean
08. Jacopo Carreras - Violinic Drumming
09. Thomas Fehlmann - Embrace
10. Pole - WipfelDub
11. NSI. Non Standard Institute - Violant
12. Exercise One - Toy Park
13. Tom Thiel - Frida
14. Deadbeat - Primordian Waves
CD 2: DJ Olive
01. Phil Niblock - Bells & Timps
02. Ikue Mori - While Sleeping
03. Pauline Oliveros - Cows, Cows, Cows!
04. Jim O'Rourke - Low Bow
05. Fennesz - Vallado
06. Marina Rosenfeld - A track (with beats)
07. Oren Ambarchi - Rhubarb
08. Evynid Kang - Petrified Wood
09. Andris Brazus - Étalé de tout son long
10. Raz Mesinai - Go Figure Skating
11. lloop - a bit more than a digit
12. DJ Olive - One Day Old
13. Once11 – Whatawind
14. Multipolyomni – Titicaca Moon (Digital Bonus)