Artist: Slow Dancing Society
Title: Under the Sodium Lights
Label: Hidden Shoal, Australia
Details: CD/DL. 7 track, 52 minutes
Links: http://music.hiddenshoal.com, http://www.myspace.com/slowdancingsociety
Slow Dancing Society is the recording alias of a guy from Spokane, Washington called Drew Sullivan. Under the Sodium Lights is his fourth album for Hidden Shoal since 2006. Broadly speaking, this is seven tracks of warm ambient music with watery synth drones providing the background for leisurely unfurling melodic lines. This is not music to set the feet tapping or the pulse racing, but there’s far more to it than background mood muzak.
Ambient music is possibly unique in the whole history of human musical endeavour in that it’s anti-communal. Song, dance and liturgical music through the centuries and across cultures has always been about sharing and connecting with others. Ambient music is aimed directly at the mind like hallucinogens and antidepressant / antipsychotic / antiemetic pharmaceuticals. Like those, it is a product of the last five decades and would probably have been unthinkable even as a concept a century ago. It is music of the mind and of introspection – a private and solitary experience. Which is why it is nearly always melancholic in nature.
Under the Sodium Lights has these traits, but unlike some ambient music that is cold, distant, almost psychotic in nature, this is music of a warm, fuzzy bent in the manner of Stars of the Lid and their ilk, only with less reliance on the drone aspect and a greater emphasis on melody. It’s the sound of quiet, still nights where all seems well with the world and the hurly-burly seems a long way away.