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Big Thief’s James Krivchenia mines Muzak on new ambient LP A New Found Relaxation

His second solo album is due out on June 26, and its first three singles from the record are premiering on The FADER.

May 19, 2020

James Krivchenia could hardly have chosen two more disparate source materials for his first two instrumental albums as a solo artist. On his 2018 debut no comment, the Big Thief drummer took bodycam audio from armed confrontations around the world and warped the samples beyond recognition, in an attempt to "explore the background noise of the constant wars all around us." But on his second record he's burrowed into a different YouTube hole. The aptly titled A New Found Relaxation — announced this morning and set for release on June 26 — brings together the audio from ASMR clips, morsels of internet spa radio, and discarded field recordings. The record comprises "500 small fragments of mangled, smeared, manipulated, and artifacted 'beauty,'" he writes on Bandcamp.

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The first three songs from the record are premiering at the top of the page. It's immediately clear from these tracks that Krivchenia has allowed these off-cut samples to guide him, but there's a natural discomfort present at the back of the mix. The minute-long "Temptation Reduced" foregrounds lapping waves but jumps around disorientingly in stereo, "The Eternal Spectator" nears resolution in a crescendo but never really allays the yawning noise of its first half, and "Touched By An Angel" spits and sputters.

"Partly it's my attempt at fast slow paced music. Partly, I was trying to take mundane or banal 'beauty' and process it — in the literal musical realm but also within myself," Krivchenia wrote of the project in an email to The FADER. “To me, the smooth, chilled-out background music of our world is often the most terrifying. I wanted to swim in relaxation signifiers but stir the pot, foul it, and have everything sort of bleed together and swirl with pace. Part of immersion for me also contains a sense of confusion and that's the kind of immersion I'm going for."

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Listen to "Temptation Reduced," "The Eternal Spectator," and "Touched By An Angel" at the top of the page. A New Found Relaxation is due out on June 26.

Thumbnail image: Robbie Jeffers c/o Pitch Perfect.

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Big Thief’s James Krivchenia mines Muzak on new ambient LP A New Found Relaxation