Experimental guitarist Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and producer Joel Ford (Oneohtrix Point Never, North Americans) began their collaboration in Los Angeles. Their studio sessions took place while the rest of California and the country as a whole struggled under the totality of Covid-19, plagued by the ongoing darkness of the pandemic.

Recorded at a time when the spread of the disease was rapid, and the number of deaths were stacking up, one would be forgiven for thinking that the resulting music would be a bitter pill to swallow. Actually, the reverse is true: it is full of colour, warmth, and life; positive in all areas. Calm and clear, the guitar is lifted up on positive thinking, looking outside with a healthy dose of optimism. Ford’s textures lie in the background, reclining but also remaining active, touching and sweeping over the guitar’s notes like a light fabric, transforming its hue and influencing its tone. The textures create a lot of distance, widening the overall sound until it overlooks an open-ended, spacious vista, with no end to its view. ‘Learning About Who You Are’ is especially good at drifting, and its colourful textures flow effortlessly into a blurred progression, concealed in mountainous levels of reverb, while a fizzling decay chews away at its edges, decomposing the music just as it was preparing to build itself up.

This record is a cohesive collage, halfway to blooming and halfway to dissolving. The duo’s alias of yes/and ‘embraces an elusive, curious forward momentum’, and over the space of ten tracks, the bubbly music is able to speak clearly despite its experimental soul. It bears no weight in relation to the real world and its recent troubles. Looking outside, beyond the safety of studio walls, the world was quite a different place. Music has always been an escape, but it seems to be all the more noticeable here, as the disconnect between the optimistic music and real world events is brought into sharp focus. But it’s just what was needed…it’s medicine. Closer ‘In My Heaven All Faucets Are Fountains’ drips with a selection of bright notes; they wash away the fear, the negativity, the stench of illness, cleansing the air through the power of their music, and the power of lasting friendship. Their self-titled album drops July 23 on Driftless.

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