As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m fairly deep in renovating this blog into what hopefully will be viewed as an improvement. I bring this up, not because I enjoy repeating myself, but instead, because it’s allowed me to rediscover acts I haven’t followed in a good long time … or in some cases, since I originally authored the given post.
This brings me to Spencer Brown, a San Francisco-based DJ/producer, who I featured way back in November of 2018. He had this wonderfully chilled progressive tune titled “5th and Concord,” equal parts euphoric house and downtempo ambient, blended into a breezy, smooth, sun-washed cocktail that went down easy and still kept you moving. Here’s that post.
Anyway, I was revising that entry – checking the links, etc. – when I ran across his latest release, “Stream of Consciousness,” a 12-track mixed LP of original material that came out in January. It’s a pre-Pandemic album, at least for the U.S.
I’ve got to say, Brown has crafted one of the most exhilarating collections of electronic progression I’ve encountered in a while. In fact, upon first listen, I didn’t realize these tracks were all original compositions, instead assuming this was just another masterfully curated DJ mix compilation (which I should add, I’m a total sucker for). But here, that’s not the case.
“Stream of Consciousness” is all unique to this mixed aural collage, structured and collated to feel as an organic and emotional journey through the highs and highers of progressive house and trance, building and subsiding, and building again.
I’ve been listening to this album pretty consistently while running in the Ballona Wetlands (near Marina del Rey, CA), and it fits beautifully as a soundtrack to this natural environment, nuanced with enough complexity to wander the mind on curious meditative tangents, while still kicking the pace at a steady enough clip to groove right through in marathon fashion.
In many ways, “Stream of Consciousness” reminds me of Sasha & Digweed’s renown “Northern Exposure” series, particularly Vol. 2. There were three of those in total, back in the mid-to-late ’90s. And arguably they set the gold standard for progressive electronica, ambient, house, trance, and all spaces in between.
I’m guessing much of this has to do with Brown’s San Francisco status, the city which lead the West Coast progressive sound back in the hey-day, and would appear to be continuing to do so today. Sasha & Digweed weren’t from the Bay Area, but their sound took root and resonated through that region. And in kind, the residents, such as Brown, allowed it to evolve into what you hear today, whether consciously or not.
It’s difficult to speak of these tracks individually, as they all feel to be unmarked chapters on one continuously mind-expansive excursion. But if I did call out any favorite moments, I’d offer the opening track “SF to Berlin,” the fifth entry “LA ID,” and the ninth marker “Leaving Newcastle.” They all leave me with that fleeting feeling that I never want to end, which might sound unnerving, but it’s not. It’s euphoric without the overload, ecstasy without the speedy aftertaste, dance music without the clichés.
Here’s Spencer Brown’s mixed collection of original tunes “Stream of Consciousness.” I highly recommend listening to it in one uninterrupted go, to get the full effect.
Spencer Brown’s 2020 release “Stream of Consciousness.”