Lawrence A Day in the Life

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Anyone who has followed Lawrence (a.k.a. Peter M. Kersten) over the course of his career will know that the Dial boss has a passion for ambient and modern classical. All his albums to date have been infused with beatless, rippling segues, and even his kick-driven house tracks have often been riddled with ambient details, proper chords, and supple synths. As such, his sixth full length—and second on Mule—A Day In The Life, is surely the one he has been working towards since day one, because it's an immersive, fully ambient affair with nary a kick drum in sight.

The album also marks a 10-year relationship between Lawrence, notorious artist Stefan Marx, and Mule Musiq. Given that the three involved agree that "sharing a good natural wine is more important than marketing," it's safe to assume this record has been made with those sorts of relaxed and homely settings in mind. It's a far cry from the club environment in which Lawrence is so at home, but perhaps because it was made on the road between gigs, it still has a vital sense of propulsion that many ambient albums lack. (This quality is also likely an unshakable relic of the fact that Lawrence has been making house music for so long.)

The title, too, seems fitting, because to be as expert with chord progressions, subtle neon colors, and finely tuned, long-tailed pads as Kersten, an artist would have to spend many a day doing nothing else. In the same way that a master painter undercoats his canvas with a toned background to add depth, every track here hums with a warm, fuzzy, and cuddly crackle, even during the silent bits. It means that tracks sound like the musical equivalent of soft-focus iTunes visualizer effects, rippling and evolving seamlessly. Rather than being an austere or abstract affair like Neel's recent Phobos, Lawrence's brand of ambient is pleasingly synthetic, full of microbacterial life and warm firefly glows; frankly, it would make a perfect soundtrack for something like the BBC's The Blue Planet documentary series.

Moods range from rainy day and dour (the opening "Horses") to angelic and heavenly harmonic ("A Day in the Life"), and even zoned out and woozy ("Marlen"). Lawrence never does the same trick done twice (though certain synth sounds and hooks will be familiar to anyone familiar with his music), which makes for an innocent-sounding album that is far more captivating than ambient's usual background fodder. From the gentle patter of hand drums to aqueous piano notes, from trilling string sounds to rich xylophone patterns, A Day in the Life is a delightfully escapist listen that is bound to soothe and seduce even the busiest of minds.