Essential albums: Another Fine Day

British composer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Green’s choice of pseudonym says it well - Another Fine Day makes music that’s positive, relaxed and clear of mind.

Another Fine Day

country of origin:

Chillout, nu jazz, folk, world music, lounge, Balearic, ambient pop

decades active:
90's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Life Before Land (1994, Beyond/Another Fine Label)
  • Salvage (2000, Six Degrees/Another Fine Label)
  • A Good Place To Be (2015, Interchill/Another Fine Label)

Reviewed by Mike G

British composer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Green’s choice of pseudonym says it well - Another Fine Day makes music that’s positive, relaxed and clear of mind. While Green is a prolific recording artist and soundtrack composer, his AFD discography is surprisingly small - just three original albums and a few e.p's. But he was there in the early 90’s when ambient was morphing into chillout as it found a new lease of life via the electronic dance scene. And he's still with us today, making soulful, high quality downtempo.

His debut album Life Before Land (1994) is a classic of its era, and a rather unusual one to boot. What's really striking about it now is that at least half of it strays far from the distinctive beats and textures of the early electronic dance music scene. There are folksy sounds, world music motifs and synthetic landscapes that echo earlier American West Coast spacemusic, environmental and electro-acoustic new age music. That's highly unusual for a UK chill record in 1994 because in those pre-internet days almost no one had heard these sounds from across the Atlantic, thanks largely to a UK music media that quickly dismissed it in the 80's as "new age" and simply shut the gate.

All of this makes Life Before Land a fascinating hybrid. Sticking closest to the sound of the era is the Balearic electronica of "Lazy Daisy", which seems to capture all the great qualities of the early Cafe Del Mar albums in one single, sun-kissed 9 minutes. In contrast, "Esperanto" is a semi-musical tapestry of nature recordings and the xylophone-like mbira, a soft toned African wood and metal instrument that has become one of Green's signature sounds. "Green Thought" is another semi-abstract piece blending sustained, wavering synth tones and tentative jazz bass phrases, while the deliciously hypnotic "Ammonite Spiral" swaps the bass guitar for soft-textured water drums.

Salvage (2000) is Another Fine Day's most globetrotting album, a folksy meeting of electronica and world music that displays some fine pop sensibilities and a pretty astonishing ear for blending disparate sounds. The English folk classic "Scarborough Fair" gets a striking remake with a looping African groove. "Cutting Branches" adds a French accordion to a traditional African tune that's driven by rapid patterns played on mbira and harp. Jazzy piano improvs also spice up several tracks. For a generally high energy album, the music also has a delicacy that shows an exceptional talent at work.

A 15 year gap separates Salvage and his third long player A Good Place To Be (2015) which hovers somewhere in the spaces between jazz, ambient and languid lounge music. His love of jazz in particular comes to the fore on this album via his fantastic piano playing. Some pieces have an easily recognisable jazz trio sound - drum brushes, piano and double bass - but his sense of space and lightness of touch takes them well into chillout territory. Throughout the album there's this complex weave of melodies going on, as he drifts back and forth between improvisations and more anchored themes. The ringing tones of the mbira also reappear, blended effortlessly effortlessly into the tapestry of cuts like “Dream Of Seals” and “Child’s Play”. All up, it's breezy feel-good music that offers simple pleasures with complex layers.

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