Switched On – Albrecht La’Brooy: Healesville (Apollo)

What’s the story?

Albrecht La’Brooy – the Melbourne duo of Sean La’Brooy and Alex Albrecht – bring this 40-minute album of improvised ambience to calm our nerves. Their Spotify biography tells the real story, describing an approach looking to ‘modernise the classic jazz format while walking ambient music through the rainforest and down to the shore. Absorbing Australia’s landscape to craft enlightened, on the fly performances that are never to be missed and never to be repeated’.

What’s the music like?

‘Natural ambience’ is the most appropriate description, for the music is rooted in field recordings made by the pair. On Healesville these include noises associated with tending the land – a tractor is especially prominent – but also a wider sound scape which includes bird noises, indistinct voices and other sounds caught on the breeze. Above this are long, held notes, a slightly shrill bird-like sound and softly intoned piano unisons or chords with plenty of sustain, which unfold like an improvised chorale. The held notes behind can range from one single pitch to thicker clumps but always feel consonant in their make-up.

The fact that two of the five tracks on this album bear the word ‘lullaby’ tells a lot of the mood and tempo at which Albrecht La’Brooy operate, but as well as relaxation there is positive energy to be found in abundance, especially in the piano playing. Sean’s Lullaby may have a good deal of reverb, but its stream of consciousness respectfully echoes Satie and Debussy.

Does it all work?

Healesville is a supremely calming listen, experienced at its best on the morning commute but equally effective in a quiet room. It sets an incredibly restful outdoor scene, making the listener feel as though they are lying on their back in a field with no reason to get up any time soon.

Is it recommended?

Yes, and especially to every commuter whose fevered brow needs soothing!

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