Title: Arizona Tracks
Label: Fax +49-69/450464
Format: CD (limited edition of 1000)
Genre: IDM, Ambient
According to what few reviews I found for this release, this album is hailed as THE ambient/IDM album and an obscure classic. I won’t lie; I have long hoped that I’d find a copy of this. FAX releases tend to be fairly good and very hard to find, as most are limited editions and are highly sought after. Prices for some FAX releases have soared past 400$. This album isn’t easy to get either, with used copies seemingly popping up only on discogs.com between 20$ and 40$ (it’s nowhere to be found on amazon or ebay).
So will this album hold up to the claims I’ve heard? Luckily, I scored a copy of this album recently, so let’s find out!
Firstly, you’ll notice that the CD cover claims that this is just one solid track. Upon playing it, however, it becomes evident that it’s split into fifteen parts. While this isn’t a real problem, it does shine a light on one detail an older review had mentioned about this album. The music, while mixed seamlessly, jumps around a lot. The tracks tend to be short, with many clocking in between 1:30 to seven minutes. This gives the album the feeling that it wasn’t very solid at all, but more like a collection of random musical ideas that are only sort of sewn together. IDM gives way to pure ambient and the ambient tracks leap quickly back to IDM. It’s like a hummingbird got ahold of the synths.
But is that a bad thing? No, not really. Sure, it’s not as solid as the booklet would make it out to be but it’s still masterfully constructed. Each track is its own microcosm, complete with its separate feeling, meaning and tone. In this sense, the album is amazing. That said, the tracks run between toe tapping ambient styled IDM and chilled early 90s-esque Warp Records material. Some feature odd rambling voices and others hum with birdsong and insects. All the while, the bulk of the songs are infused with a light and pulsing IDM beat that was typical for the mid 90s.
Still, there are moments it feels like things could have been fleshed out more. Track 12 is one of those pieces. It starts out with a few dolphin samples before a nice IDM beat kicks in, but after maybe a minute, the song ends. It could have been built up to make a lengthy track with depth. I know this album was meant to be a soundtrack of sorts for night driving in Arizona, where each track is a random passing patch of scenery or a feeling derived from it (in concept) but still, some tracks could have been longer.
All in all, despite its flaws, this album isn’t too bad. The mix of early IDM is for the most part, awesome, and the brief ambient stints are fun. But, should you buy this? As mentioned before, outside of a small reissue on iTunes, this CD was only issued once and is terribly hard to find. The price, sadly, is pretty high but at times, you can score an inexpensive copy. That said, don’t blow all of your cash to get one.
4.6 out of 5.