Another evening descends over Sacramento, California. As daylight arches over the horizon for another spectacular disappearance, the mood shifts from one of stressed work into one of relief and casual appreciation. The day loses its strict 4/4 rhythm as soon as the hour strikes; the countdown is over as we say goodbye to a maligned boss. Now, it’s playtime. Open to closed signs revolve in store windows, schools empty and desks are cleared, ties are loosened and lights are flicked off, eventually allowed to rest for another day’s end. As the evening approaches, a subtle sense of excitement, exhaustion and relief wash over in a sugar coated shower, and the ride home can’t help but raise a smile. Above, a pink sky rises in the evening air; the working day is finally done and the music starts to play; the cool evening air coupled with that feel good factor ensures the evening has plenty of good vibrations.
For Your Home Or Office, originally released way back in 2003, hasn’t aged at all. Luckily for us, the dreamy concoction of breezy electronic melodies, fragile loops and light, playful vocals still excites, seduces and charms like a juicy, ripened cocktail sharing a birthday with the music. Electronic melodies and cute, bubbly vocals ripple out of the music in dreamy waves, much like the moonlight beaming back off the river’s dark water. The music on For Your Home Or Office reflects the playful state we enter when work is over, and Wesley Steed and Jeannette Faith (call her juju, please) are the husband and wife duo who make this possible as Park Avenue Music.
Bright, suntanned Northern California vibes are replaced with an after hour glow of dreamy, sunset melodies that at first remain largely well lit, even after the blackened night starts to set in. This time, the re-release comes with six additional remixes from the likes of aus and Geskia!. In fact, both of these artists contribute the strongest remixes, straying away from the original just enough to perfume their own individual sounds upon the tracks, while still leaving Park Avenue Music’s recognisable shell largely intact.
These are melodies as light as the air in a floating set of balloons, before they are gently cast away over the space of a second and released forever. Their music is an experience of nocturnal life, time-lapsed from the day’s end to the dead of night. Despite the after hour affirmation, the darkness isn’t immediately apparent. In some places, it still feels like a sunny, west coast sound, perhaps basking in the subdued, dying sunset for one last time before the streetlights flicker on and replace the fluorescent lights of the office with their own artificial light.
Luckily, the music still feels alive and youthful on its re-release, and it still captures the air of the night just as effectively as it did back in 2003. Slightly warped, the almost surreal melody of “The Mellow One” takes a stroll through the evening light, taking in the nightlife and breezing through the now vivid colours that remain unseen and dormant during the daylight hours. Stuttered and scattered in stretched intervals, the dance of the night continues on “How’s Your 401k”, as free-flowing electronics recount their day in a decidedly pop fuelled major melody, uplifting the music with natural good looks, hidden under a mascara of electronic make-up, creating the lightest of atmospheres as it reverses in a dreamy loop.
The pop feel continues through to ‘The Modern Guide”, which may not be so modern anymore, but it still sounds complete and could easily have been recorded earlier this year. As mentioned before, Park Avenue Music are a playful duo, and perhaps the most striking musical element on the album is presented during this track, as the music slowly dissolves and winds down right in front of us; maybe the music has had a long day too and just needs a break for a couple of seconds. It’s a beautiful excursion through the descending twilight, and at its end the darkness is truly upon us. The light declines with every passing note, as a downtempo, almost melancholic bassline starts back up; it’s a progression that may be heard on the radio as well as the Californian nightclubs. As gentle waves of piano undulate, the river becomes still, comfortably sleeping on its bed of gritted sandstone and pebbles. As the dark fills all, an invitation is offered for us to do likewise, as the music glides along as long as it likes. The closing interlude twinkles a sparkling melody like a sleepy dose of Tinkerbell’s golden fairy dust.
Remixes complete the dream, in a way that an extra couple of luxurious hours in bed wrap up an already perfect night. Lorin Sylvester Strohm’s remix of “How’s Your 401k” feels like a brand new track, adding his own set of vocals and a dusky melody. All of the remixes manage to keep the mood very much chilled as the sun revolves around again. For Your Home Or Office can also be listened to anywhere; running in the park or on the rattling, rush hour commute home. The music still sounds as fresh as it did when it was originally released nine years ago; it’s still a walk in the park.
Park Avenue Music are a duo that never allows the pitch-black to fully enter, in the same way that the moonlight in the dark still lets us look up and see the stars. It remains quietly innovative and original to this day, and it’s a record for both the lovers of the night, the stressed out workers and the evening commuters taking in the ride via the suburbs. Despite the night air, the music stays warm, cosy and free from any interference of light pollution. The reassuring neon lights in the dark twinkle on all sides down at street level, seemingly as distant as the stars coming alive above. (James Catchpole)