James Osland is a UK sound artist who has been involved with one of our favorite tape labels, Rusted Tone Recordings, from their inception. Manitoba Gardens, Osland's first release for RTR, was their first cassette to completely sell out, and he's been a mainstay ever since, contributing in a variety of capacities. His latest release for the label is titled Almond Drive, and it acts as a sort of continuation of the narrative presented on Manitoba Gardens. Though few details are given about this "Almond Drive" location (which we assume is a real place), Osland sculpts another masterpiece using warm ambient tones, field recordings, and found sound. Listening to the album, we are taken to a corner of the world dear to the artist's heart, and to a time worth remembering.
Photo credit: rustedtonerecordings.com
At the bottom of Almond Drive's Bandcamp purchase page, Osland offers a short dedication to a couple, Roy and Mary Jenkins, for creating a safe and loving home - a space to share memories. Those few words provide a little contextualization, and like a famous archival LP, Almond Drive is steeped in nostalgia. Bird chirps, casual conversation, music-box instrumentation, and playground noise settles in between the cracks of soft melodies. It all conjures a vision of the happy childhood alluded to in the artist's words.
While the album is best played as one piece, unfolding like a story, back-to-back constructions The Scene Of Our Everyday Lives and You're Not Lost, You're Here are absolutely high watermarks. Both can be heard below, but visit Rusted Tone Recording's aforementioned Bandcamp page for purchase information. You won't find Almond Drive on Spotify. We here at DC are suckers for music with a backstory and sounds beamed in from another world - perhaps as a form of escapism? Whatever the reason, Osland and RTR deliver a beautiful artifact here, which we will surely revisit again and again.