On his new album Aging (Wild Kindness), Pittsburgh producer Six O’Matic trades the jaunty psych rock of his 2018 debut for glacial, unfurling waves of ambient melody and sound.
There are some musical styles that can be difficult to write about. Ambient is one of those styles; after all, how is someone supposed to come up with words to describe a piece of music that genre pioneer Brian Eno once wrote should be “as ignorable as it is interesting?” Drone can also be tricky because of the music’s emphasis on repetition and single notes stretched out like silly putty. Six O’Matic’s Aging draws from both styles, so I was wracked with anxiety as I considered the prospect of writing about the album. Soon, though, I was calmed by the austere elegance of the music; even the tracks that feature harsh textures or dissonant melodies manage to wall off the rest of the world and isolate the listener within a distinct sonic space. The sounds themselves might be strange or unnerving at first, but without outside context to define them, they exist on their own terms. It’s like looking at a dilapidated concrete wall while practicing mindfulness; the object is beautiful because it is there and because it is itself. Listening to the track “Shine” feels like watching the sun rise over Jupiter; the strumming of a single acoustic guitar, buried low in the mix, is overlaid by brilliant swells of melody that swirl like clouds of planetary gas, while a chorus of digital blips mimics a flock of alien birds approaching over the horizon. “Shine,” like any good drone or ambient track, completely immerses its listener in sound; it’s interesting, but certainly not ignorable.