- An unlikely collaboration between an electronic producer and an indie rock singer-songwriter that puts an earthy spin on ambient.
- As an important figure in the 2010s New York City chillwave scene, Joel Ford made a name for himself playing with Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin in the dream pop duo Games and holding it down on bass as a member of the retro-futuristic act Tigercity. Now working out of Los Angeles, the producer has helped shape albums by artists like How To Dress Well, Jacques Greene and Autre Ne Veut. While Ford's portfolio doesn't really touch on indie rock, his latest project is a collaboration with singer-songwriter Meg Duffy. Under the moniker Hand Habits, Duffy plays contemplative folk songs when they aren't busy hitting the road with artists including Perfume Genius and Angel Olsen. Under the moniker yes/and, the duo craft guitar-driven ambient music that lingers in the grey area between the optimistic and the aloof. Tied together by bleary psychedelia, yes/and is as well-suited for a wilderness retreat as it is for the chill-out room at a party.
The record's sonic palette is certainly mysterious, but yes/and flaunts a surprisingly cheerful attitude. These expansive, sprawling soundscapes are joyful and freewheeling. On "Ugly Orange," wispy synth pads lay the framework for folky, plucked strings—it could perfectly soundtrack a drive through miles of New England meadows, except maybe for the dissonant, scratchy guitar playing that interrupts the otherwise peaceful backdrop. "Tumble's" muted, repetitive strumming draws from the work of 20th-century minimalist La Monte Young. On these tracks, Ford's creative direction takes the backseat, but his prowess in the studio sets them apart from anything Duffy has been involved with before. Even when their stringwork is at its most prominent, these intriguing effects and arrangements keep the music distinct. Guided by Ford's subtle hand, Duffy embraces a newfound sense of simplicity.
A peaceful, sometimes hypnotic sensibility dwells at the heart of yes/and, recalling the computer manipulated sounds of Austrian glitch artist Fennesz. "Centered Shell" finds the duo leaning on echoing, fingerpicked recordings that cascade over keys, providing one of the record's best examples of yes/and's creative chemistry. On "More Than Love," distorted instruments dominate the foreground while processed vocals loiter in the ether. Meanwhile, "Emotion Scroll"'s low-passed pianos and jagged pads play like one of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops composed in real time, culminating in a deluge of unsettling, sharp noises. However, for every murky moment on yes/and, there's an uplifting high point. The record's rambling instrumental worlds are most often celestial and cinematic.
As a studio player who has worked with artists like William Tyler and The War On Drugs, sweeping, country-tinged atmospherics are nothing new for Duffy. Even so, this project takes both artists' talents for crafting auditory textures to new levels. In many ways, yes/and plays like Ford's work with cosmic Americana artist North Americans, on the album Roped In. Where that effort fixated on heartfeltt steel guitar melodies and pretty chords, yes/and uses rhythm and space to craft a meditative exercise in patience. The LP's golden glow keeps it from feeling like a minor side project. Channeling hopeful energy through an unlikely alliance, yes/and is vibrant and surreal.
02. Ugly Orange
03. More Than Love
04. Learning About Who You Are
05. Centered Shall
07. Melt Away
08. Making A Monument
09. Emotion Scroll
10. In My Heaven All Faucets Are Fountains