I haven’t reviewed music in a long time. I applied for a music reviewer position at Austin’s own AudioGalaxy back in 1999, and didn’t get the job. Since then, I read about music, and I download it quite a bit, but write about music? How do words even begin to explain a riff on a six-string guitar, or that playful sound that a siger uses to captivate the listener? Write about music? Me? Gedouddahere.
That having been said, I feel the urge to jump into a review of Jeffrey Radcliffe’s first album, Travelog. Jeffrey is a good friend, and I know him as being no stranger to travel. He left Oregon to join me and 34 other students at ArsDigita University when the hi-tech economy was already starting to turn dicey in 2000. He originally hails from my home state of Texas, but has been able to travel to Europe, Australia and other continents unknown.
So yes, you can listen to the album and say that it is based on an inspiration bourne from traveling the globe. However, the mind’s eye paints a different picture every time you slip the album into your player and press play–there are notes that you didn’t notice the last time you listened, there is a mood in one song you didn’t pick up on–and you begin to get the feeling that Travelog is more about the travel of the mind, not the body.
Take, for example, Lament, the last track of the album. Beneath the refrain, as you hear the song a second or third time, you begin to hear new sounds in the background you didn’t notice before. I need better speakers, you might say to yourself as you hear a rumbling noise, then a whispering hiss, much like sand being thrown against a windshield. But as you listen to it again, you begin to discover for yourself that it’s not you, and that Jeffrey’s sound is skillfully wrought to play with the listener. Listening to this album, you begin to wonder where he was when the breath of inspiration whispered into his ear each of these tracks.
What makes this album even more special is that it is distributed by a site that caters to local artists, CDBaby. If you feel the open-source love like I do and want to support local artists who don’t have record deals with BMI and are still talented anyway, buy this album. (You can sample some of Jeffrey’s other work here for free.) A special shout-out to Massachusetts people, if you thought ‘local electronica’ was an oxymoron, you are sadly mistaken. Buy this album.