Whenever I'm in New Orleans, there's a little place that I like to retreat to every now and again to get away from all of the lights, people, traffic, and noise which usually consists of an amalgam of dance music and cheap zydeco/jazz imitations incessantly vying for the attention of passing tourists. I won't go into too much detail because, let's be honest, I'm a bit selfish and I don't want to one day find any of you there sitting on my bench, but it's fairly well inside the French Quarter, and it involves navigating a few smelly back alleys. Still, though the pathway to it may be littered with restaurant garbage and heaven knows what else, this little space consisting of little more than a couple of benches, a water fountain, and a statue oddly reminiscent of those guys that spray-paint themselves silver and stand still for money is somehow a quiet, peaceful, refreshing refuge from all the stressors described above, seemingly despite the laws of physics, and it's exactly these feelings of peacefulness, tranquility, etc... that Chicago, Illinois duo Good Night & Good Morning conjure on their self titled EP.
Consisting of little more than a few guitars, a vibraphone, and some sparse, hushed vocals, Good Night & Good Morning could easily fall victim to becoming little more than glorified background music, but the music always manages to shift and evolve at just the right moment, either by building up to a new section or dropping out suddenly to introduce a new motif or idea. Opening track "Sister" serves as a perfect example of this, as the sullen, low hum of the vibraphone is slowly built upon by a number of simple guitar loops, whispered vocals, and the languid click of a guitar pick against strings that seems to almost be in constant danger of falling slightly out of time, but never actually does. Still, there is no true "climax", but rather a simple building up of small parts to create a complete composition, before the whole thing eventually dissolves back into the wash of humming, ethereal tones coaxed out of the vibraphone using cello bows that takes up the duration of "Ocean In View". The EP is littered with moments like this, from the sudden dropping out of what could be considered the "loudest" moment of the EP at the conclusion of Sleep Green to contrast with the dull static in the opening of Wine, to the slow transformation of album closer "Wallflower" into a lush soundscape-ish piece replete with acoustic strumming and subdued harmonica lines.
Sure, the ideas presented on Good Night & Good Morning might not exactly be exciting or revolutionary, but that's really hardly the point here. Rather than getting caught up in musical analysis or sitting around waiting for some grandiose climax to bring about some soaring, otherworldly movement, Good Night & Good Morning simply invites you to take a half hour to yourself, shut your blinds, maybe turn off your cell phone and shut your laptop, and just be
for a little bit while giving your mind enough space to roam as it pleases, but giving out just enough of a tether to keep you rooted in the real world.