Yesterday after breakfast I thought it was high time to write about this album. But then I looked at it and thought about it and then decided differently. After all – it had been created for Mule Musiq, and more specifically for their new listening bar in Tokyo, Studio Mule, and Peter Kersten a.k.a. Lawrence said he imagined himself in the place listening to music on a magic vintage sound system, with a special drink in his hand, slightly tipsy. He also said that this album was created to be very eccentric and tipsy.
So I thought that I should not be writing about it without being at least a little tipsy myself. How would I be able to tap into this special mood without being slightly buzzed? So here I am, sipping on my second glass of excellent Gin and Tonic. To honor the occasion, I opened a bottle of Roku Gin, a very fine craft gin from Japan. I can definitely recommend it.
Of course, if it weren’t for the pandemic I would just hop on the private jet, zoom on over to Tokyo, take one of those insanely fast trains to town, take a cab to Shibuya, slide into Studio Mule and ask the waiter to bring me my personal bottle of Roku, but what can you do, right?
So I raise my glass to Lawrence at the other end of a bar we both have never been to. An interesting thought – he composed this album without having visited the place, writing it for an imagined bar. I am visualizing the same bar based on what I hear – and it will be my own idea of the place, depending on how my slight inebriation and my own imagination picture it.
Let’s sit back then and let the visions unfold. The most immediate observation is one of lightness and elegance, and of a finely administered concoction of elements. Some of these seem vaguely nodding towards Japan with subtle percussive impulses or a hint of a melody. Momentary glimpses of Jazz can be detected, just a few chords here and there, in the choice of instruments, brushed drums. Rhythms are laid back, supporting the vibe rather than trying to create movement.
Another sip of Roku and Tonic – and the windows open wide. A park. Lawrence tells us it’s Tiergarten in Berlin, but it could be anywhere. In our imagination it would even be entirely possible to let it be placed right next to Studio Mule in the middle of Shibuya. Why not, if that’s how it feels.
Interestingly, the album feels entirely as if it was about a place, not about people. I am wondering if my impression is led by my knowledge of the album’s concept and reason for being – or if it is actually what the artist is able to let our imagination show us, guiding it with sound. I also wonder how it is possible that music that is so not about people and their emotions and interactions can still feel warm and empathetic.
That’s how it is, though, and that’s why it is such a great companion for a single person in a beautiful place with a nicely mixed drink. It all sounds like someone quietly sitting somewhere and taking the atmosphere in, the ambiance, the feel of a place, and it does sound like these felt impressions were translated into nine approximations. As such, it is a perfect listening album – just like Studio Mule is a listening bar.
It all comes together wonderfully in these times when the only way to travel freely is within our imagination, when we yearn for being somewhere else, a place that gives us a chance to step out of our confinements, to let our worries slip away for a while, allowing for a much needed disburdening of our souls – and yes, all you need is this album and a beverage of your choice. Lawrence and Roku.
I feel good.
Release for review:
LAWRENCE – BIRDS ON THE PLAYGROUND – MULE MUSIQ – MULE MUSIQ 267