L’Orange, L’Orange by Gregg KowalskyRelease date: November 10, 2017
Label: Mexican Summer
Those familiar with the vast majority of Kranky Record’s output may perhaps have come across the name Gregg Kowalsky. The experimental ambient artist released two records on the label between the years of 2006-2009. The two records offered at the time showcased a musician, who seemed more interested in the process of creating, and working with the results of experimentation to see what has been produced, and what it can represent (or at least, one infers such). After 8 years, we can now delight in the return to Kowalsky’s solo work, with the release of his third studio album L’Orange L’Orange.
Across this body of work, we’re introduced to a wonderful style of Kowalsky’s, where ambient swirls and drones slowly build up to swathe the listeners in a wash that is purely exhilarating. Inspired by the sun itself, and the locations of Los Angeles and Florida (both current and former locations for the artist), we see a body of work taking inspiration from a landscape swathed in a warming heat. Through the music, which ranges from a comfortably intense drone to an ethereal synthetic sway, we’re given a sense of being the centre of a beautiful shimmering coastal landscape. As it is so called, this is an album that feels incredibly orange! There’s even a wonderful variety to it all, giving us not just a sense of a warm paradise, but in fact many different images and concepts of what it feels like to experience life in this way.
The way in which Kowalsky perfectly pulls us into his own mindset and feelings of the world around him, making us feel the beautiful warmth of his locations through his music, makes for a wonderful record. Whereas some ambient albums arguably perhaps delve too much into melancholy, Kowalsky instead offers us something that feels refreshing and warm, something akin to swimming on the beaches of Malibu, or driving through the heat, watching the sun bounce across the ocean and shimmer in all its beauty, or even staring into the distance, watching the sun descend across the horizon, bathing the world with a darker shade of orange. This is simply what comes to mind when listening to the record, but the image is one that’s lovely to indulge oneself in, showing a wonderful strength to the record.
L’Orange L’Orange is a wonderful and beautiful return to form, and one that positions Kowalsky as an ambient musician who clearly has a lot to offer. There’s a rich tapestry of detail in the atmosphere of the record, making it perfect to get completely absorbed by everything being produced. The experimental nature of Kowalsky’s approach to composition has resulted in an album that is incredibly inviting and lovely, and one that sticks around well after its finished, giving those who listen with rapt attention a wonderful and warm presence that elevates mood to something comfortable. It’s a lovely thing to leave the listeners with, and one that has been beautifully done.