4 Airports is the debut of guitarist Craig Chin and synthesist Nathan Yeager, with both contributing samples and loops. Despite the clear nod to Eno in the name of the group and this album, 4 Airports explores different points on soundscape spectrum than Music For Airports. While Eno focused on piano and voice, Chin and Yeager create weird ambiance with a combination of gentle guitar themes, sequenced patterns, whooshing electronics, and layered synth work. The result is heavier and more abstract than most ambient music, but more pleasant and soothing than the dark ambient / nightmare works that are usually the focus of these reviews. In fact, the closest comparison that comes to mind is mid-70’s Tangerine Dream and retro space music.
Despite some familiar sounds and textures, 4 Airports is not derivative. They combine well-known tropes with fresh sounds, textures, and melodies. The result is surprisingly compelling and makes for a remarkably pleasant listen. In particular, the album’s high moments often involve a sequenced theme over which Chin provides a slow guitar solo and Yeager fills the background with waves of sound, as well as the odd foreground weirdness.
Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, 4 Airports consists of five mid-length tracks. Most of these pieces are from live performances. There are a handful of more recent recordings on the group’s Bandcamp page, so this hopefully means that more albums are in the pipeline. While we published our Best of 2018 a few days ago, we will have to go back and retroactively add this release. Great stuff.