Albums that fall under the umbrella of “easy listening” are criminally difficult to analyze. All but the rarest of the rare follow any sort of progression beyond the idea that music should be calming enough to subdue even the most troubled of souls. To add to the difficulty of the easy listening genre is the sub-genre of electronic easy listening. Throw in a few DJs, some repetitive background beats and suddenly what was originally a simple task becomes a tranquil sisyphean nightmare.
While both artists are relatively unheard of due to location and name changes, DJ OKAWARI and The Incredible Moses Leroy (now The Soft.Lightes) represent two different approaches to electronic easy listening. The progressively titled “become The Soft.Lightes” is the final album put out by The Incredible Moses Leroy before the name change to the Soft.Lightes. To put it in a succinct form, the album is good, has flow, but may be distracting in a way that easy listening shouldn’t be. “Mirror”, by DJ OKAWARI is the DJ’s sophomore piece. Just like college sophomores, the album is on a good track, but suffers from a lack of flow.
Both albums are the sort that can be put on for decent background music or, for the daring and intrepid in the world, would be amply suited for a decent remix with something more lively. On the other hand, the first major difference between the albums becomes apparent without even playing the music. Where “become the Soft.Lightes” is purely original, which can be risky, “Mirror” features covers of a few well-identifiable hits. Neither direction is bad, but it is one of several differences.
In terms of actual tracks, both albums have hits and misses. “become The Soft.Lightes” has gems such as The Color of Sky and L.O.V.E. which are about as tranquil as can be. These compare well with Following the Dream, Minamo, and Evening Comes 2 from “Mirror”. Both albums also fall short in some regards. The skip button was practically designed for We Don’t Dance from “become The Soft.Lightes” and a few of DJ OKAWARI’s tracks can sound a bit discordant to the point that relaxation is gone. One major plus that both albums have are songs that have a bit of a childish sound, but end up being just as powerful as the rest. The Wonder Mic off of “become The Soft.Lightes” is pretty much a nursery rhyme and while “Mirror” lacks songs that bring about images of children running around a maypole, there are a few that are just as great and childlike.
When it comes down to it, both albums put forth a firmly relaxing air. Unfortunately the nature of easy-listening music lends itself to a disjointed adventure through a tranquil wonderland. Some element of flow would benefit both albums immensely, though admittedly, both albums come through in the end with powerful, closure-inducing final tracks. Of the two, The Fourth of July, from The Incredible Moses Leroy brings more to the table. Evening Comes 2 can be good and ages well, but it falls short. Both albums are entirely capable of bringing on a much needed tranquil state, especially in the middle of a stressful semester.