by Jonathan Bannister (@j_utah)
The world is filled with noise — traffic, construction, the office's murmur of keyboards, too loud laughs, backstabbing, and restaurants that are too loud. Beyond this, our social feeds are filled with instant-playing videos, that in turn play over the tv blaring out whatever horrible thing humans have recently done to each other. Music is a part of the collective noise that makes up our days, and yet it is noise that facilitates an escape from the cacophony; it is noise that means something. Even so, the sounds we decidedly gravitate towards can be too much. Sometimes the last thing you want is amplified guitars with heavy doses of squeal — sometimes even lyrics are too much.
Steve Hartlett knows all about noise after creating walls of it with his bands Ovlov and Stove. He has made some vital and necessary sounds. Now paired with his cousin Milo Dusty, they’ve created ambient, electronic, mostly instrumental music as milo + stove. Oceanography is their second album of bedroom beats. Oceanography is perfect for quiet nights alone staring off into the middle distance, and for those trips through the city when the clouds are plenty and the gray feels oppressive.
There’s a vintage Anticon vibe to the album, especially with tracks like “Last Forever.” Each song flows into the next, the same guitar sounds carrying over multiple tracks. It would make great music to meditate to, and yet it could also work as music you might hear in an after-hours lounge; dark reprieve from the city that is tucked into some back corner.
Oceanography might sound like a 180° from Hartlett’s other work, but songs (especially the title track) still have the distinct vibe you associate with his other work. “Sea Floor” is a reimagining of the Stove song “Dusty Tree,” but with vocals from Stove/Jackal Onasis’ Jordyn Blakely; Hartlett takes vocal duties on “Meow” and closing track “From Shadow.” “From Shadow” sounds like it could be a Stove demo, something we may hear again in different form.
While Oceanography might sound like someone cutting lose and having fun, there is plenty here to warrant serious attention. It is a nice break from the norm and provides a meeting place for fans of loud rock, hip-hop, and electronic music to give their mind a rest. Come on in and zone out.