Agitated Atmosphere: Valet - Nature

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
06/19/2015
Justin Spicer

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Valet.

Etheric light shines from the musical bosom of Valet’s first album in 7 years. Seven long years that found Honey Owens moving in the opposite direction of the barren landscape she created with Blood is Clean in 2006 and the sparse psychedelia of Naked Acid in 2008. Along with musical and life partner Rafael Fauria, Owens had moved on to exploring dance and house with Portland, Oregon’s Miracles Club. As a vehicle, Valet was all but shuttered.

Nature not only speaks to the act of birthing offspring but the experiences of the gestation period. The same holds true for Valet itself, a band once confined to Owens’ solitary experiments now shared with and aided by Fauria. The birth of the couple’s first child prompted Owens to revisit Valet as both a name and an idea. The expansive guitars and celestial voice still remain all these years later, but it’s a different guise from the past that reboots Valet. Soaked in gauzy shoegaze, Nature harkens to the happy sorrow of Lush and Slowdive. Opener “Sunday” slowly opens the curtains on the abandoned studio of Valet, picking up heat as the sun begins to warm the cold space. The title track speaks of youthful acts of transaction, reliving past transgressions before extolling the virtues of growing up. “Lion” layers the eras of Valet on top of each other; spacious background vocals beneath a flower power pop melody. Owens recent history with electronic music begins to crowd the album’s back half with Wurlitzer speed of “Transformation,” before giving way to the joyful emptiness of “Child,” the cycle of a life lived being told to those new to our world.

Nature is Owens’ strongest set of songs. It may have taken the better part of a decade to exit the birth canal, but the parents couldn’t be more proud. Two beautiful, happy children to raise in the afterglow.

Justin Spicer is an editor and journalist who writes for Tiny Mix Tapes, Cuepoint and Ad Hoc among others. You can find him on Twitter.

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