Australian drone/ambient mastermind Lawrence English is back with another fantastic record. After the great success of “Wilderness Of Mirrors” back in 2014 the Room40’s label founder returned with “Cruel Optimism”. If you listened to “Cruel Optimism” the first time you can’t believe that almost each of the 11 tracks are collaborations with other ambient musicans. Every tone from the new one sounds entirely like Lawrence English himself.
The main statement of the album title is from a essay of Lauren Berlant. These two words builds a contrast. On the one hand there is the cruel realistic of bad evolutions nowadays (refugees crisis, political extremes) and on the other one is optimism. Without optimism you can’t live on. It is a key element in humanity. Nowadays many people suffers on expectations and external influences from our society. All of them are subjects from Lauren Berlants essay and they are also important elements of “Cruel Optimism”. If you look at “Cruel Optimism” as a drone/amnbient record, it starts with “Hard Rain” a sureal menacing momentum of a track. It floods perfect into “The Quietest Shore” before the powerful “Hammering A Screw” lands. It has his shocking moment at the start! “Exquisite Humen Microphone” is another great track with it’s horn sequences. My personal highlight from “Cruel Optimism” is “Object Of Projection”, with it’s entirly impact. It reminds me of 2015s Rafael Anton Irisarri’s track “Empire Systems”. “Cruel Optimism” is the perfect record for a long walk in the park on a late fall day. Manacing and dark at one side but melancholy and beautiful on the other! Contrasts are everywhere, but my rating for this one is immense. The year starts with some fantastic records and Lawrence Englsih is also in the top bunch. Put your headphones on and hit the play button!