(Adhesive Sounds, 2014)
Pleasant Valley is Saskatoon’s Chris Laramee’s debut on Toronto-based tape label Adhesive Sounds as Wasted Cathedral, and it’s my favorite thing so far on the nascent imprint. Top that, you guys! How’re you going to beat favorite? Good luck. But I’m not here to taunt anybody, let alone such nice people. So I’m going to instead opine on how pleasant Pleasant Valley is, and how this quick trip can easily become a much longer one if you turn your stereo on “repeat.” Because if it’s one thing I’ve learned, the most enormous doses possible of good things only make them more good!
So rather than dive right in to the experimental stuff that so lovingly encapsulates the rest of the cassette, Wasted Cathedral begin things with “Munroe and 17th,” which has a distinct early Space Needle, circa Voyager, vibe, but instrumental. There are crazy processed drums, and the beat could fit on a hip hop record! But that’s not all – the keys or guitars or whatever instrument Laramee uses to smear texture and color all over the track do a perfect shoegaze imitation, as if Brad Laner was in the next room and his guitar experiments were bleeding through the wall, leading to a Wasted Cathedral/Medicine collaboration. (This is something I would pay to hear, by the way.)
“Munore and 17th” is a red herring, though – it gives way to the pulsing wads of “We Depart Memphis Moons,” the gateway to the cosmos-facing rest of the record. It’s pulsy and bulbous, like a pulsy and bulbous pulsar, and it gives way to the glittery interstellar musings of the Vangelis-like “Entering Praise, Let Him In,” a cosmic invitation to an entity, or maybe the universe. Who knows? The title track follows on a Caretaker vibe, as if Leyland Kirby stopped by to lend Laramee his dusty old 45s. I had no idea I was going to namedrop Space Needle, Medicine, Vangelis, and the Caretaker in a review of this cassette, but dang it if I’m not over the moon about doing it.
The tape ends on the lengthy “Bloom Diamonds,” all twenty-one minutes of it. Laramee uses it as an exercise in grand sidelong synthesizer meditation, in which clouds of sound formations anchored by a simple keyboard melody end on the most magnificently understated chord structuring possible. This fitting farewell allows the track to flit, Voyager-like (the satellite, not the Space Needle record), past the confines of communicable distance. It’s a moment of clarity – no, Arthur C. Clarke–ian transcendence – where the truth can be immutably glimpsed, and eternity comprehended.
Bet you didn’t see that coming? Well, I’ve warned you – you will become a universal being, evolving into a space child. You won’t even need cassettes, or MP3s, or record labels, or headphones, or anything anymore. So, I guess, thanks a lot Chris Laramee and Adhesive Sounds for essentially stealing music from me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if I can move through time too.
Hey, I can!
RIYL: Demonstration Synthesis, Evan A. James, Form, Vangelis