in one of those rare musical moments, alisa rodriguez has created a masterful body of work with little more than a guitar and copious amounts of personal reflection. fractured youth is rodriguez’s latest effort under her ambient guise of apollo vermouth, but this album strips away most of the salient, dreamy traits of ambient music in favor of an ominous, distant barrage of noise. it may be the milwaukee resident’s most profound collection of songs yet.
although the album is broken up into specified tracks, fractured youth lends itself well to continuous, uninterrupted playback. chord changes are slow, and any sense of harmonic motion is usually obscured by the layers of white noise that accompany each song. after two comparatively quick tracks, the album settles in with “aftertaste” and “never ending,” a one-two hazy punch serving as the centerpiece of fractured youth.
both songs flirt with the six-minute mark, the former falling just short while the latter spills over, yet each establishes and represents a fairly concise, contrasting element of rodriguez’s music. “aftertaste” has a sense of urgency, its busy progressions hinting at explorations of pent-up emotions, while “never ending” paces itself more methodically. harmonics from the drone tend to have more emphasis here, and the back half of the song seems especially stagnant.
after increased tension on “vacant lots,” fractured youth comes to an appropriate close with “drift,” a gorgeous coda that evokes an oddly distinct feeling of being lost at sea, perhaps a metaphor for dealing with a foreign situation. together, the album’s six songs comprise a half-hour of minimalist, reflective music just as useful for falling asleep as it is for deep, serious meditation sessions. fractured youth is out now via bridgetown records. don’t miss out.