- On Beta Librae's latest album, Sanguine Bond, the Brooklyn artist charts a path through dense ambient passages, understated house bombs and new age-flavored downtempo tracks. Throughout all of that, there's an atmosphere that never lets up. What lingers after listening is a certain mood, maybe something best described as a color palette: low-lit shades of ruby and lilac, like yearning tempered by detached coolness. "Canis Major," with its "Nagoya"-esque marimbas moving in circular harmonies, is the only track that actually brushes up against sadness, and even there the sentimentality is rationed out carefully.
It's a neat coincidence that the record label's called Incienso (Spanish for "incense") because the textures suggest a hazy, fish-bowled ambience. The synths stabs on "Just Drift"—one of the most powerful dance floor tracks—move like the smoke from an extinguished candle. The percussive noises in the background seem like floating dust particles caught in a ray of light. At different points in the album you'll hear a layer of quiet noise or textural interference running in the background, which not only creates a fuller sound, but adds an unexpected emotional dimension. It reminds me of what the New York producer Phil Moffa once told me about his production methods: try getting a layer of noise going before adding any drums or synths, just so your blank canvas has a bit more character.
Where Beta Librae's last album could be a bit jittery and rigid, Sanguine Bond has a lucid fluidity. Even on tracks like "New Feelings," where breakbeats emerge unexpectedly from the fog, there's a relaxing lounge-like ambience. That's probably due in part to the mixing and mastering, which gives these tracks a smooth big-room dynamic without the big-room tropes. The sub bass here is mixed louder than some producers might prefer, but this—together with tasteful reverb and a gentle dampening of the higher frequencies—is exactly what accounts for the womb-like sensation that makes Sanguine Bond go down so smooth.
Not surprisingly, DJ Python's Dulce Compañia (the previous release on Incienso) had a similar approach to sub bass (lots of it, and loud), which may seem like a small detail but can totally change the character of the recording. Like Dulce Compañia, Sanguine Bond also rewires the notion of "lounge" aesthetics with a style that is laid-back and atmospheric, but so rich in detail that it refuses to fade into the background. What it comes down to is a careful balance of smoothness, deepness and the persistent presence of something weirder.
A2 Just Drift
B1 Cosmic Machines
C2 Canis Major
D1 Pink Arcade
D2 New Feelings