If music were ever to become visible to the naked eye, Steve Pacheco’s mesmeric The 4th would sport a pair of soft, silvery wings, a supple skeleton and a crimson heart pumping love, only love, into its veins. The 4th seems to defy the constrictions of gravity; it flutters and floats upwards, above and beyond a turmeric-shaded sunset.
Creamy textures hang in the lagging atmosphere, blurred beyond distinction; a watery piano washes over the ambient drone in Sega-blue, its notes coalescing to form a vague melody which may or may not be improvised (maybe it’s a bit of both), but even the piano feels like a passing thought, a sad, cloudy interlude, second to the soft, almost romantic texture that floats in the foreground. Notes are stretched out, always separating and, like a failing relationship, moving ever further apart from each other, rising on the crests of different winds and destinies. Rising in altitude.
The American artist has a love for lo-fi sound which dates back to his childhood. In those days, he’d frequently be seen carrying a transistor radio, and this lo-fi love has bloomed, matured and grown up into adulthood. The process begins with a melody or a loop – created via guitar, piano, kalimba, xylophone – and is subsequently processed. The melody loses its sharp, well-defined edge until a soft texture, apparition-thin, emerges. Indistinct, minimal and slow-burning sequences are added until the track is bottled up, labelled, and released into the wild. The secret? The whole process is natural and not forced – he waits until she’s ready. Why rush after things? It does well to wait, especially within music. Like the subtle changing of the seasons, the music will come to fruition when the time is right. As such, the process can be a lengthy one, in constant need of patience…and in ambient music, patience is not just a virtue but a necessity.
The 4th is a ripple of a beautiful memory and a haunting echo of an upsetting loss, but it’s also the journey of the soul as it tasks itself in letting go of something treasured. As such, the emotional territory is familiar (ambient music is well-read in matters of the heart). Love and later loss, like that of “Aspen Grove”, is an inevitable part of life for us all, but music will always tell a story using different words; sentences will always be altered; phrases will always display different colors, like autumn leaves. We all sing different melodies. But these memories are personal to Pacheco, and that’s what makes the music stand out, dating as they do from his time in Sante Fe right up to ‘Completion’, when he returned to Los Angeles. The 4th refers to the Chakra system, the fourth being the heart chakra. The music freely gives out positive, loving energy, with bright lights given life by an infinitely warm halo. Unconditional love makes its home in the fourth chakra. These pale-bright and incredibly warm textures open up channels you never knew existed, pouring through the body and into the spirit. It took a long time to get here, and the pretty music is given extra credit for its saintly patience. You need to stop for an hour or so while the music surrounds you. Your head will clear and life will feel good again. It pumps love into the veins and allows the listener to experience and reconnect with his or her own cherished memories – The 4th’s warmth invites this, and the memories stay. (James Catchpole)