Chris Daly is in a good mood because he’s in the zone.
You know that feeling you get when two of your best buds decide they want to be chums themselves? That’s about as close as I can describe the joy I felt when I first heard luminary lo-fi labels Friends of Friends and Chillhop were pairing up to launch the first in a hopefully long-running series of collaborative projects called Field Studies Vol. 1. Ranging from jazzy, late night beats to indie pop, from acoustic jams to vocal throwdowns, while the cozy vibe remains consistent throughout, the tracks are anything but repetitive. From the plaintive, hazy opener, “Embers,” by Enlov and Molly McPhaul, to the field recording stylings of closer, “That Midnight Air Rushes Through the Window,” by Sundrenched, each artist seems energized by the group effort and brings some of their best heat to the starting line-up.
For Afternoon Bike Ride fans, there’s the double dose of “Rewind” (with SwuM providing production) and “Better,” both of which prove that their foray into sunshine grooves continues unabated. Some of the lo-fi genre greats are here, as well, with Somni (the mellow “Drift), Sleepy Fish (the piano-driven “Leaf Contour”), Sweatson Klank (the bedroom-vibing “Love at the Swimming Hole”) and shrimpnose (the synth-lazed “Colorblind”) all dropping doctoral thesis level beats.
Historically, when I write about an album, I’ve tried to explain how the music sounds/feels to me and when/where are the best places to listen. To keep us all on our toes, I am taking the literal opposite route with this one. Field Studies Vol. 1 is probably not the appropriate soundtrack for backyard wrestling matches, cockfighting or coke-fuelled debates on the merits of authoritarian forms of government. Not once during my repeated listens did I ever feel a need or desire to punch old people, nor did I want to go Thunderdome with Master or Blaster. Admittedly, kite flying often crossed my mind, but only in the good way. If, however, relaxed and refreshing sound good to you, Field Studies Vol. 1 is bound to put a smile on your face.