Score: Lift Music
Symbolic Interaction

Don't look to Lift Music's physical presentation for details about the project or its creator: the release arrives in a cardboard package containing a CD and hazy colour photograph but no info about the artist, instrumentation involved, or even track titles. What is known, however, is that Score is a side-project by Chris Tate, who partners with Paul Christian Patterson in the UK outfit d_rradio (deathrowradio), and that Lift Music is a rare and unusual creature that one might dub easy-listening electronica. Some tangential connection to post-rock might be gleaned from a few of the tracks, but the forty-five-minute, genre-defying release has more in common with New Age than anything more muscular.

Deprived of credit details, one presumes that Tate's operating in one-man band mode on the thirteen-track collection. If that's the case, he's done an excellent job of simulating the playing of a small instrumental ensemble. Dense arrangements featuring synthesizers, pianos, drums, electric guitars, electronics, percussion, and melodica bring Tate's soothing reveries into being, and soothing they definitely are: sounding a bit like a modern-day Crusaders, Lift Music might be described as an ambient-electronic equivalent to smooth jazz.

As per its title, it's often uplifting and also exceptionally pretty. The typical cut serenades the listener with a lulling, laid-back drum pulse and an entrancing weave of melodica textures, guitar (acoustic and electric) shadings, mallet accents, synthesizer whooshes, and piano (acoustic and electric) melodies. Figuring prominently, melodica, its associations with dub downplayed, adds personality to the material and lends the album individuating character. And even though each piece is an intricate, polyphonic construction rich in counterpoint—Tate's arrangement of piano, acoustic guitar, drums, bass, synthesizer, and marimba for “Real Life” is particularly deft—Lift Music never feels laboured or bloated.

May 2017