Always Choose Love (Lemongrass Music)
California-based Matt Gaspari aka Ladder can lay claim to German label Lemongrass Music’s best album of 2020 with Always Choose Love. Just like Moscow-based Catpilot did on the same label’s 2018 stunner Homecoming (which almost nobody heard, goddamnit) Ladder shows a fantastic gift for extracting 25-plus years of dance music DNA and shaping an album of intelligent, melodic chillout grounded in a wide variety of breaks and beats. Cuts like “Today” and “You Are” juxtapose oddly syncopated drum breaks with sweet humming basslines and ethereal, uplifting chord progressions. The gorgeous rolling melody of “I Love The Rain” is pure pastoral romance, and the soaring midtempo “Home” with it’s surprising disco bassline is a first rate piece of Balearic bliss. Also, some of the string arrangements here are worthy of chillout masters Tom Middleton and Bonobo. Always Choose Love proves the lounge tip of ambient dance music is alive and more than well in 2020; you just have to dig a bit.