Sparkle Division To Feel Embraced Temporary Residence Limited
Sparkle Division finished their debut album way back in 2016, but the manner in which that year descended into a festering garbage fire for humanity made them rethink their plan of releasing a set of carefree electro-jazz bops. And so the duo, comprising ambient/experimental icon William Basinski and his longtime studio engineer and assistant Preston Wendel, waited it out, hoping for a time when the world was ready. And waited. And waited. And waited.
In true 2020 spirit, they decided to fuck it and release it anyway. In the words of Basinski, “Well, damn it, if the time ain’t right now, it never will be! Let’s do this!”
The wait, it seems, was necessary. The arrival of To Feel Embraced is a divine stroke of timing; an escapist, tropical party record whose ambiguous genre-play fits a time when the very concept of a ‘party record’ itself is ambiguous. Enmeshed together by the sort of impenetrably deep ambient haze we’ve come to expect from a Basinski record, the album’s sonics are otherwise harebrained and scattershot: You Ain’t Takin’ My Man pairs trip-hop beats with a showstopping saxophone solo; Oh Henry! is futurist jazz beamed in from another solar system, while Queenie Got Her Blues evokes the sort of oldies standard Big Edie sings to herself in Grey Gardens, but only if she were underwater in the halls of Atlantis.
If there is a particular moment of beauty that stands out from the rest it would be the two-song title track suite, a gorgeously rendered moment that transports the listener out of time and space itself. But To Feel Embraced feels like nothing so much as a campy carnival ride that punches your pleasure centres with gusto. It is also a fascinatingly left-field offering from one of ambient music’s most singular creators, proving that in times of crisis, sometimes the solution is indeed to let your hair down and get freaky with it.