For Us Alone is the new album from Alaskan Tapes. Toronto-based musician Brady Kendall infuses his ambient music with a deeply calming essence, which, as strange as it may sound, ties into his previous musical life as a drummer, when he began his music career back in high school, listening to the metal bands he grew up with – “screaming stuff…as heavy as you can get”. Ambient music may seem far removed from percussive punchbags, but perhaps it’s closer than one would think; it’s all about context. Kendall found his musical fix in drum and bass, and then fell into the more relaxed, atmospheric, and fluid sub-genre of liquid drum and bass, with its harmonic ambient backdrops and lush, fleshed-out synths. As such, his Alaskan Tapes alias feels more like a steady(and completely natural) evolution rather than anything out of leftfield; nothing is dislocated or out-of-place.
“Alaskan Tapes started off as downtempo electronic music, where I consciously made the decision to take out drums. I had always started my writing with drums and built everything else around them. I just really wanted to be able to focus on something else. I wanted to make something that wasn’t as relaxing or chill, but instead something that was intimate.”
Drums make up a key part of For Us Alone, but they’re used in moderation, despite a vague post-rock vibe, which runs like blood through the veins of its tracks. Shimmering guitars, deep-rooted basslines, and crushing drums are able to anchor the piece, and the album was written in three groups of three, with three songs featuring drums (one in each suite). The music feels both spacious and connected to the overall rhythm (like that long ago liquid drum and bass). The rhythm feels solid and reliable rather than jittery and unstable, making it a powerful beast upon which a single track can ride. The minimal atmosphere ensures that its ambient textures are allowed to float freely, even when bolted to the drums, and a magical, ethereal quality shines through.
Kendall understands ambient music, and the songs are free enough to include and absolve any mistakes, as ‘mistakes cause textures and allow the depth to exist in order to make the listening experience more honest.’ For Us Alone is able to mirror and convey something of the human condition, as its imperfections add personality and heart to its music.