The treacherous, pockmarked terrain of glitch electronica is a curious place to go for a holiday. Usually, the work of Christian Fennesz and his accomplices at the Viennese Mego label is characterised by skips and blips and tiny damaged noises, an unsentimental avant-music of laptops and dysfunction. ‘Endless Summer’, though, is weirdly blissful, possessing an indefinable emotional pull.
In 1998, Fennesz released a brilliant single on Jim O’Rourke’s Moikai label, an unrecognisable version of The Beach Boys’ ‘Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)’. ‘Endless Summer’ is that record’s belated sequel, borrowing its title from an old Beach Boys compilation and its atmosphere from Brian Wilson’s most elegiac, wistful music.
Obviously, Fennesz is operating with radically different tools. But as he slices up tinkling vibes and ghost harmonies on ‘Caecilia’ through a digital heat haze, it’s plain that this is an unswervingly modern but affecting homage. There are parallels, too, with another rarely-glimpsed genius of raw sound, Kevin Shields.
‘A Year In A Minute’ and ‘Happy Audio’ electronically recreate that magical fluff-on-needle effect of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’, burying their warped melodies beneath protective layers of fuzz.
That’s the real beauty of ‘Endless Summer’: an album that proves experimental new music can understand and revitalise old traditions, that the avant-garde doesn’t have to be grey and terrifying. One to pack with the swimsuit and post-structuralist textbooks, for sure.