LP2 is a newly-released album from the greyfade recording label that consists of electronic, vocal and instrumental sounds woven into a rare and beautiful ambient tapestry. Available in vinyl LP and digital download formats, LP2 is an inspired collaboration between vocalist Theo Bleckmann and electronic musician Joseph Branciforte. More than just a series of tracks, LP2 is intended as “…a complete conceptual universe – a synthesis of sound, compositional architecture, design and text worthy of sustained engagement.” Several years in the making, LP2 is a natural extension of greyfade’s acclaimed ambient album LP1 from 2019.

Joseph Branciforte, the founder of the greyfade record label and a Grammy Award-winner, has extensive experience as a recording engineer as well as process-based composition, electronic and acoustic minimalism. Theo Bleckmann, a vocalist twice nominated for a Grammy, “…makes music that is accessibly sophisticated, unsentimentally emotional, and seriously playful…” In many ways, the structure of the pieces in the album amount to Branciforte and Bleckmann working seamlessly as a single artist. Their combined talents have resulted in LP2, an album that explores the relationship between the otherworldly and the familiar.

The first track is 1.13 and was originally recorded as part of the sessions for LP1 back in 2018, but was left off that album. This track thus forms a natural connection between the two. 1.13 opens with low sustained string tones, as if the distant roar of some large motor. Soft vocals enter, long tones without words. Occasional chimes add a solemn feeling to an otherwise restful and serene ambiance. The skillful mix of these elements create an even and pleasant texture. As the piece proceeds, the parts slowly fade away, thinning out the lovely sounds and reducing the dynamics. 1.13 glides to a placid landing, the contented essence of soothing tranquility.

Some of the pieces on this CD are short ,at just a minute or two, much like sonic samplers. 10.11.5, the second track, Opens with a soft electronic beeping, soon joined by sustained voices. There is a gentle feel to this and a slightly alien feel, although never intimidating. 10.14.4, track 4, is similar with somewhat stronger beeping and a faster tempo. Voices in harmony sing short notes in syncopated counterpoint over a lovely sustained tone. A mechanical clicking adds just a touch of urgency to this piece.

10.17.13, track 7, opens with a variety of electronic and metallic sounds along with a touch of mystery in the vocal parts. There is a stronger alien feel to this, but never menacing. The volume builds, cresting to add a bit of tension, but soon fades away. 8.11, track 5, is slightly longer at 3 minutes and begins with solitary metallic tones, heard singly or a few at a time. Sustained voices appear in the background with percussive sounds and occasional musical tones dominating. A restful feel to this even as the metallic sounds contribute an alien flavor. Overall, these pieces straddle the line between the warmly welcoming and the otherworldly.

7.21, track 6, takes this idea a bit further with a duration slightly longer than 7 minutes. Light bell chiming sounds open and are followed by flute entrance with long tones in low register. Quiet vocals, in same general register as the flute, add a distinctly human element. There is a soothing and gentle feel to this that is complimented by a steady drone and the subdued electronic sounds. The vocals occasionally soar above the texture beautifully evoking a gentle and introspective atmosphere.

11.15, track 3, is one of the longer pieces at 10:12 and has perhaps the most complex blend of sounds. Deep single bass tones in the opening repeat a three note phrase. A languid voice enters, repeating a simple melodic phrase without words Bells and other electronics now in the texture and a male voice enters in counter melody. There is some complexity to the texture but always simple and lovely. Some sustained instrumental tones enter with a halting, somewhat mechanical feel. There is a beautiful blending of the electronic, instrumental and vocal sounds so that all the elements combine well together. Towards the finish, the voices become more rhythmically active and increase their dynamics to dominate. 11.15 combines all its various elements to create a lovely sound that just keeps flowing along until quietly fading at the finish.

9.23, track 8, concludes the album. Soft voices open with a scratching, mechanical timbre followed by electronic musical tones, distant and cool, with strong sustained notes. This produces a slightly menacing, but mysterious feel. Now long sustained vocal tones, sounding almost as screams, arc over the softer texture. The declarative style of the vocals dominate and there is a sense of tension here, more so than the other pieces on this album. Bell tones appear and the mix of sounds seems to be gradually changing. A more intentional feel develops, and this final piece is no benign ambient wash. At the finish, the sounds slowly fade out in a rhythmic cycle leaving only a light static. 9.23 is perhaps the most calculating piece of the album: warm, yet distant – congenial, yet remote. The listener is invited to decide what this music is communicating about the “…boundaries between improvisation & composition, live performance & studio production, human & machine-generated sound.”

LP2 invites the listener to consider the mix of the alien and the welcoming in the sounds. Each piece contains these elements in slightly different proportions, and the listener must decide if this constitutes a threat or reassurance. Joseph Branciforte is a Grammy Award-winner for sound engineering and his skills on this album deserve special mention. The variety the sounds heard on LP2 often send out conflicting emotions in a way that outweighs their sonic presence. The mixing and mastering here are extraordinary in that there is a cohesive and balanced fabric that frames these unusual sonic textures. The clarity delivered by LP2 provides the listener with a new level of precision for the evaluation of unique sounds and unusual combinations.

LP2 is available from the greyfade record label directly.