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Lo-Fi Album Review: "Plane Prepared Vinyl Past" by Alec Shea

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.


Alec Shea’s Plane Prepared Vinyl Past is full of smoothly gliding, twilit ease that flows with easy-going beats and delicate, jazzy instruments. This is music for relaxation that still keeps the brain and the ears engaged as it unfolds.

“Shibuya Coffee Shop In The Evening” comes into being as trembling, tinny piano plays a sweet little melody over a steady background ringing. The drumbeat trips and thumps with a hollow feeling as funky slap bass comes in.

There’s a jazzy edge to the piano and more depth as warmer chords wash around it. There’s a steadily swirling glow in the background as the drums and bass skip along. Gentle piano shifts and slips while slap bass adds a little extra funky flow.

Alec Shea - "Shibuya Coffee Shop In The Evening"

The music drifts into a segment where elevated, delicate notes float in a caressing melody while the musical background is full of haze. The piano wanders before the slap bass and popping drums add rhythmic shape to the music. As the track ends, the piano twinkles along into silence.

A deep well of bass and a tranquil swirl of sound join piano carrying a caressing melody that brushes gently through the music to start “Sunset Cafe in Yokohama.” Bright guitar shines out in a encouraging melody over the smoothly gliding piano. The drums and bass are laid back and tick along easily while the guitar roams and dances.

Josh Vasquez’s guitar forms a repeating pattern that adds flashing light and texture to the music. The drums steadily pulse and the bass is an easy flow as the guitar trembles through the music. The bass lifts up the other sonic elements and the piano’s melody is a breathy feather floating on a summer breeze. The guitar adds more depth and the beat now fades along with the dreaming guitar and finally only drums remain.

Alec Shea - "Night Coffee In Shinjuku"

“Night Coffee In Shibuya” opens with a distantly clicking, ticking drumbeat that shifts along with trickles of gently descending piano notes that twinkle through the music. The drums provide a smoothly flowing motion as the piano softly unfurls its tendrils and smooth, rising sounds flow.

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Gently distorted, breathy flute carries a wandering melodic line with an easy glide the bass undulates underneath. Chiming glockenspiel repeats a softly touching melody as sweet strings flutter through, adding a wistful ache. The piano sparkles and the bass flow guides the music along with the ticking drums. Josh Vasquez’s whirling, improvisational jazz guitar adds dancing energy before the track ends.

Alec Shea - "Dusk Sky From A Tokyo Rooftop"

Flickering, chiming, keyboard notes move in an uneven pattern over softly stuttering drums to commence “Dusk Sky From A Tokyo Rooftop.” The drums lend a wavering pulse to the music, forming a wandering and lost-feeling pattern as the drums shake and trip.

Piano notes keep falling above the endlessly popping beat as the mesmerizing pattern flows on and on. This is music that catches the mind in a looping dream. Drums quaver and the breathy piano slips in imbalanced lines, keeping the listener waiting for the next beat to fall. The piano has a roaming, indecisive feeling over the top as the music fades out.

“Evening Walk Through Ueno Park” comes to life with echoing, resonant bass and caressing piano. Lush electric guitar carries easily breathing notes that create a delicately floating feeling over light drums and creamy bass. The piano has a trailing tenderness as it flows in soothing notes above the indigo blue of the underlying sounds.

The track feels effortless as a round, bell-like synth carries softly gleaming notes that shine through the twilit emotion of the track. The guitar adds a reverberant feeling over the ease of the drums before the track slows and ends on a line of cascading notes.

Alec Shea - "The Lights At Night In Akihabara"

Aching piano slowly tumbles through open space in a rhythmic line as deep, solid drumbeats slowly shape “The Lights At Night In Akihabara” along with a smooth metallic ticking. The honeyed voice of Felix Pong’s violin and gliding guitar notes with a bending quality sing out.

The violin is touching and emotive while the guitar flickers and higher chimes glisten over top. This music is filled with passionate warmth by the violin while xylophone adds subtle brightness. Quick, elevated notes trickle through while tranquil piano notes add depth and the metallic beat guides the music to an end.

David Cho’s bonus track “Yumcha” opens with an achingly tender glockenspiel melody sounding like a fragile music box. Steadily ticking drums, luscious bass and a guitar singing another soothing melody with a settling quality.

A koto plays a roaming line that flickers along with ease above the smooth drums and the gently swirling guitar. David Cho’s writing fits in well with Alec Shea’s overall sound on the release. The guitar has a bluesy twist in it as it wanders in an elegant melody over the drum heartbeat and out into silence.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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