Park Avenue Music: For Your Home Or Office (reissue)

If you missed Park Avenue Music's For Your Home Or Office in its initial go-round, it's now being granted a second life courtesy of mü-nest though this time generously supplemented with remixes by Ametsub, Geskia!, aus, and Hior Chronik, among others. Remastered by Chihei Hatakeyama, the electronic pop songs by the Sacramento-based husband-and-wife team of Wes Steed and Jeannette Faith are as satisfying today as they were when they first appeared. Even if the glitchy backgrounds Steed fashions for his classically trained partner's voice are emblematic of the mid-2000 period, the charm of the songs themselves helps them transcend the era of their origin. For the record, For Your Home Or Office was the second Park Avenue Music album of three, and Steed and Faith currently are involved in a trio project called Hearts+Horses featuring Thomas Monson on drums.

As we noted in our earlier 2005 review, the duo often dress their songs in elegant piano themes, gentle Rhodes sprinkles, and crunchy beats, and illuminate songs like “How's Your 401k?” with swaying staccato rhythms, sparkling synths, and backward phasing effects. Adding to the music's earcatching character, Faith's vocals are sometimes liberally manipulated, whether woozily warped during “Golden Hummingbird” or distorted in “The Mellow One” and “The Modern Guide.” The melancholy that's so much a part of the Park Avenue Music sound comes through most affectingly during “Betrwayx,” which entrances with a delicate blend of vocal musings and meditative electronic ambiance.

It's the remixes, however, that, being brand new, catch our attention most of all, with most of them opting to enhance Park Avenue Music's originals with elaborate colour without sacrificing their defining character: aus animates “Cutter” with an insistent, beat-driven treatment that's intensified by a hammering snare pattern; Geskia! transforms “The Mellow One” into a kaleidoscope of multi-coloured beats and fluttering textures; and Ametsub gives “Golden Hummingbird” a lightly swinging trip-hop-styled makeover. In addition, Lorin Sylvester Strohm wraps “How's Your 401k?” in a gently swinging swirl, and Poplamb (aka Hideki Umezawa) & Yoshinori Takezawa recast “The Modern Guide” as a pastoral wonderland of pianos, harps, and violins. Ending the project on a robust note, Hior Chronik bolsters “Betrwayx” with a punchy dance groove that turns Park Avenue Music into an unexpectedly credible dance outfit.

September 2012