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Evenings—Gardener EP Review

Virginia ambient electronic artist Evenings returns with surprise EP

Henry Strand

Contributing Writer

 Evenings began as an ambitious, cost-cutting solo project and has been quietly innovating past and present trends in electronic music for the past few years.

Nathan Broaddus grew up a dedicated Radiohead fan in Charleston of all places and bought his first audio interface when he was 15. In 2010, he began uploading his ambient electronica tracks for free under the name “Evenings” from his UVA housing. Most of this was recorded in the kitchen at the expense of two easygoing roommates.

The output was sporadic and subtly intriguing and, after the sounds of his college era were reworked into the full-length release Yore in 2013, Evenings managed to draw a crowd of admirers as humbly as a talented street performer.

Sometime during the early 2010’s, Broaddus borrowed condenser mics from the UVA music library to record a friend’s a cappella performance — the result was “Friend [Lover],” Evenings’ most accessible and popular experiment. If you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground, chances are you’ve already heard it.

Evenings’ music is inspired by a loftier school of “classic” EDM but draws from a modern sonic palette. On Twitter, he was one of millions of fans celebrating the release of Syro this year, and the influence is immediately evident on Gardener more than it was on any of the chillwavy material from Yore.

The title track and opener is driven by a bubbly syncopated melody over a rhythmic haze of digital cymbals and popping drum machines. The use of delay creates a bounce back effect that adds another layer of syncopation — intriguing, but not quite exciting.

“Moon Country” is the most ambient track on the EP, a shoegazy interlude that enters with a couple seconds of hissing, clicking and dripping, then a foundational fog of pumping bass and the continuation of patchy synth guitar leads, altogether screaming Boards of Canada — another one of Broaddus’ primary influences growing up.

“Sheperd’s_” showcases Evenings’ crafty knack for vocal sampling, using unintelligible clips of humming and moaning to assemble an implied melody. Judging by his earlier work, it’s become something of a specialty for Broaddus while the rest of the genre has beaten the technique into a relentless cliché.

“L” is an arpeggiated synth solo hovering in a warm cloud of static. By that description, it sounds like a knockoff of Daniel Lopatin’s early work, but the sound is insistently original: the constant variation of the selected notes never sounds repetitive. At times the synths are warm and glowing, at others they are squeaky and screechy.

The closing track “9BFCE2” is an extension of a hypnotic synth chord wafting out of silence into the mix obsessively over a six-minute soundscape. This track is the best on the EP because it accomplishes what only the best EDM can hope to: the complete distortion of time.

The final five minutes and fifty-eight seconds of the EP are stretched into a fleeting lifetime. The listener’s perception is warped further by a graceful tempo change halfway through the track. It is those moments that make a 17-minute EP more decadent and satisfying than full-length extravaganzas like Syro: modesty coupled with raw talent.