Shy Layers' music has filled an important gap in music listening for me. Though his sound collages are somewhat eccentric, they evoke a tone of simplicity and humility that I associate with stripped down folk music (think Bon Iver or JBM). The 10 songs on Shy Layers' debut LP are the most accessible, experimental songs I can remember hearing as an entire album. Half seem to carry modulated lyrics (vocoder) and the others are vibrant rhythms that evoke colors like ocean blue or speckled paint from an island sunset. Yes, something about this album carries the dichotomy of water: simple yet complex, intriguing but familiar.
Back to that gap in my music listening. It's the way these songs can be uplifting without sounding like they're trying to force emotion that's so important for me. It's usually the simplicity of stripped down music that can so gracefully create emotion, but Shy Layers does it with several, bright brush strokes. The African rhythm of "Too Far Out" is reminiscent of Paul Simon's world-pop masterpiece, Graceland, without using much more than the title words to lead you vocally.
Unsurprisingly, "SEG" seems to take it's cues from Simon's Graceland as well, and both songs lead you at least a minute in before any human voice can be detected. Layers does a beautiful job of letting his synthesizers come to life in their own natural world, allowing them to have a language that feels anything but computed. Every sound and melody here just seems to fit organically. If you've never fell for Animal Collective's weird pop but wanted to, if you enjoy loop masters like Monster Rally, and if you have a thing for New Age music - you might love this album the way I do. Side note: you don't have to understand a word of that last sentence to be susceptible to this album's charm.
Favorite Track: "Black and White"