Junior Varsity KM

Taking Care Of You (Bliss Out Vol.10)

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McDowell's contribution to Darla's Bliss Out series is a worthy one -- Junior Varsity km's own brand of restrained and sweetly beautiful ambient techno spiked with polite beats won't appeal to bleeding-edge cognoscenti, but those wanting a peaceful, enjoyable listen will find Taking Care of You right up their alley. Starting with the skittering jungle-meets-synth wash fusion of "You're Fabulous!," which also turned up as the lead track for a separate EP, the hourlong album continues in that vein throughout, helping ensure that some sort of chilled spirit of 1994 is forever lingering out in California. Slowing down and stopping a song entirely for a brief harp snippet isn't a surprising thing to hear as a result, and neither is the occasional buried diva sample or touch of saxophone. A definite link to the shoegazer sound that the Bliss Out series is named for comes with "Fourshadowing," thanks to a recurrent guitar/feedback loop that immediately calls to mind the cool, processed power of early Seefeel. Where the album gets more strident, if only slightly, with the opening drum rolls on "Regarder" or the concluding beats on "Sea of Tranquility," the result is a bit more meat to prevent Taking Care of You from evaporating entirely. "The Injury," with its distinctly creepier air thanks to high, nervous synth parts and brawling, abbreviated drum hits and loops, is the roughest of the bunch, though it's a roughness in context, still restrained and subtle even at its most intense. Otherwise, it's fairly smooth sailing with songs like "Suspension Bridge," though "Waiting for the Big One" is the best at finding a deep connection, its serene, slow wash of warm keyboard tones slowing evolving into a surprisingly funky little jam, all the more noticeable for being the only thing like it on the album.

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