With his solo career Van Tassel has a built a reputation as a producer and composer of electro-acoustic music that is both highly sophisticated and easily digestible. His music, which has been featured on the Outdoor Life Network’s program “Departures” and “Descending”, is a tapestry of traditions; the familiar plucking of folk music floats amongst drum machines and ambient field recordings, driving bass lines melt into flowing synth melodies. His albums has received critical acclaim from the CBC, The Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, and won East Coast Music Association and Music Nova Scotia awards for 'Electronic Album of the Year.'
“haunting...The alchemy is remarkable” - Toronto Star
“Come for the music, stay for the cyborg fish armies, giant gorillas and Daniel Craig. They all come to play in Joshua Van Tassel’s amazing new album Dream Date” - Laurie Brown, Host of CBC2′s The Signal
“Whether it is the Kid A-inspired sounds of Sneaky Beard or The Warmest Heart, Van Tassel’s uncluttered approach to making music is one that demands your attention.” - Ken Kelley, Music Nerd Chronicles
- ARTIST: Joshua Van Tassel
- TITLE: The Recently Beautiful
- CAT#: BKWRD033
- FORMAT: Vinyl, Digital
- RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2023
The ambient music upon which Joshua Van Tassel has built his reputation has often been pushed by large concepts: the life cycle of a giant squid, a sci-fi folk tale, a custom score for craniosacral therapy. Those compositions lean long, psychedelic, grandiose—music for the sonic intellectual.
For the follow-up to 2020’s Dance Music Volume II, he’s taken a new approach, smaller in scope without sacrificing focus: lullabies for adults, arranged for a quartet, written at night while the rest of his household slept, not a one crossing three minutes. The result is The Recently Beautiful, a collection of hushed dream fodder and gentle aural nightcaps.
“I wanted to feel the feeling of listening to really beautiful deep music, but for a really short time,” says Van Tassel, who wrote a song at the end of every night for nearly two months straight to arrive at these 13. “You can sink into that: that was a beautiful moment in my day. And you can have it again.”
Other than reverb added in post, what you hear is what was played, and captured—the mournful interplay of minor notes on “Blown Clean Through,” the climax and denouement of “Smiles Displaced,” the minute-long rainfall of “Unity Rain,” the symphonic lift of “We’d Leave Together,” crickets duetting with strings on “We See The Same Moons.”
Before he returned home to rural Nova Scotia with his young family, he recorded these songs in Toronto alongside Robbie Grunwald (piano) and Drew Jurecka (violin and viola), with Van Tassel on his trademark Ondea. “Robbie and I talked about playing slowly, quietly and consistently, but still have intention and intensity,” he says. “It’s so much harder than loud and fast. The difference between him pressing a key and not making any sound and pressing a key and making a sound—I’d say ‘That’s where you need to be, for the next 10 hours.’”
It was a process of distillation and instinct, a new approach by its maker, who wants listeners to turn to The Recently Beautiful at night to help them process the day via pleasing melodies, delivered with quiet grace.
“Sometimes,” he says, “it feels like there’s not a lot of places to find beautiful things and a place to live in that for a short amount of time.”
So he created one.
“The music billows out in an organic way, phrase leading to phrase, one long vibrating note spilling into the next without the guardrails of rhythm or measure…This music stirs you like a memory.” – Aquarium Drunkard
“lullabies, hushed dream fodders, and gentle aural nightcaps” – Headphone Commute
“an ambient weighted blanket we can’t wait to slip under” – CBC Music
“extremely atmospheric” – York Calling
“purposefully short and sweet” – Exclaim!