In the spirit of Meddle, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, and Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Labradford's sixth record features a side-length composition and a flip of shorter works. With Fixed::Context, they've built on the spatial qualities of E Luxo So, while making their most personal and intimate recording, despite it being completely vocal-less. Simple, subtle, and quite beautiful, the 37-minute album rewards during deep concentration and as use for background. It's just as scenic as Scenic and just as pleasantly dust-blown as Ry Cooder's score to Paris, Texas. Barely-there electronic rustling and an organ drone lead off the 18-minute-long "Twenty." Two spaghetti western-style guitars duel between the channels, both attentive to each other. Periodic skips and pops enter two-thirds through, fading away with the other carefully constructed layers as the side closes with a shrill tone. The twang slightly dissipates for "Up to Pizmo" and "David," where both guitars again gracefully lock horns. A pulsing stomp gradually comes into focus on the former, like a blues guitarist keeping the beat with his foot. On "David," an airy synth helps rid the track of gravitational pull, only to leave in favor of a furnace blast and more electrical surges. "Wien" is led by a reverberant synth melody, as the guitars play more of a supportive role. Not particularly maverick or innovative by any stretch, Fixed::Context loses none of its effect throughout a day's worth of rotation. The addition and subtraction of its graceful layers ebb and flow, shifting like harm-free plate tectonics. Like the best ambient music, it's solemn and deceptively melodic. If you found any of Labradford's earlier records to be too boring for your taste, this won't do anything to change your opinion.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman