PJS - Environments

  • Published
    10 Jan 2022
  • Words
    Dash Lewis
  • Label
  • Released
    November 2021
  • Genre
  • Sprawling ambient music that reconstructs and evokes the beauty and vastness of the natural world.
  • Share
  • The shot PJS chose for their Bandcamp profile picture makes their ethos immediately clear. Positioned at tables next to each other, Jordan Christoff and Patrick Dique don headphones, deep in the zone. Backs to the camera, their gazes rest on their samplers and synths. Most importantly, they face a dense, sunlight-dappled forest—a wall of lush greenery they can turn their gaze to whenever they're unsure of where to take their compositions. For the past 15 years, the duo's records have drawn inspiration from the natural beauty of their native British Columbia. Their languid music unfurls slowly and instinctively as a fiddlehead, its fronds stretching towards the sky as it blooms. Environments, their third full-length for Edmonton label Kudatah, collects pieces recorded between 2018 and 2020. Each of the album's six songs patiently stitch together layers of sound into an enveloping blanket. It's a deeply psychedelic examination of place, simultaneously grounding and free-floating. PJS albums often feel like instruction manuals for meditative states. The opposing forces in the duo's music—serenity and maximalism—give the feeling of sitting in the middle of a Northwestern woodland, fully immersed in the surroundings. The reconstruct the natural world with synthesized crashing waves, like those that appear on "Weather System," or the sample-and-hold cricket chirps found on "Forest." Some of the album's beauty is bittersweet, as if acknowledging that one can experience a stunning vista but can't internalize it. The wistful chord progression on "Daydream" carries a bit of sadness, but the twinkling sequence at its edges eventually overtakes it, settling the song into a major key drone. Environments isn't all heartstring-tugging. "Eco" terraforms a glimmering digital forest complete with filter-pinged birdsong and white noise rumblings that mimic the rustling of leaves. The slow reveal of a melody built from several different synth voices feels wide-eyed and joyful, almost awestruck at the sheer amount of life teeming in its ecosystem. The album's half-hour centerpiece, "Sugar," sprawls like echoes through a cave system. Its scope is humbling, a reminder of the vastness of our world. Humans tend to think of themselves not only outside of nature, but in control of it. In this view, the landscape becomes a vessel for extractable resources. As a result, climate change has not been kind to the Pacific Northwest in recent years, with wildfires and floods ripping through its lush biomes. On Environments, PJS construct synthesized versions of our natural world to remind us that we aren't separable from these ecological systems—we are just as affected by them as they are by us. They're not sitting in front of a forest as a passive audience, soaking up its influence momentarily. Rather, they're plugging in to the ever-present hum of the Earth, remembering that their—our—existence is one in the same.
  • Tracklist
      01. Daydream 02. Sugar 03. Weather System 04. Forest 05. Eco 06. Fragile