That's certainly the case with Gaussian Curve, the trio of Gigi Masin, Jonny Nash and Marco Sterk, AKA Young Marco. In late 2013, Nash traveled to Amsterdam to see Masin perform. Sterk also attended the gig. Once Nash and Sterk were introduced to Masin, the trio hung out and became fast friends. A few months later, they got together and spent two days in a small studio in Amsterdam's red light district. From those sessions emerged a plaintive, beautiful full-length called Clouds. "It felt like we'd known each other from a long, long time," said Masin of the sessions.
And then life intervened. Masin, in the midst of an unlikely revival, returned to Venice. He continues to tour thanks to newfound appreciation for music he made in the '80s and '90s, some of which has been reissued by Music From Memory. Nash moved to Amsterdam and released three ebow-heavy new age guitar records on his own label, Melody As Truth. Sterk has barely had a weekend off since, having emerged as one of Amsterdam's busiest DJs. He's made up for his presumed lack of studio time by pulling together compilations of obscure music and Italian "dream house." It took some high-profile Gaussian Curve live gigs, including a supporting slot for deep house legend Larry Heard, to get them back in the same room.
Nash's solo work has progressed remarkably over the last couple years, culminating in the dreamy, gamelan-influenced Eden. Gaussian Curve treads along the same gentle path. Tracks like "Breathe" and "Suspended Motion," which sound like outtakes from Clouds, hew close to the group's formula. Masin's deep, emotional pianos flow into Sterk's light-touch synth with Nash's tasteful guitar lines floating above. Occasionally, the trio wanders into new territory. "T.O.R." is a sunkissed take on American minimalism, Nash's trumpet and guitar darting between Terry Riley-esque synth and piano figures. Beyond Masin's foundational chords, Nash is the key player here. Often, as on the epic "Four For You," he improvises against his own layered guitar tracks.
If Clouds found life in the spontaneous spirit in which it was made, that initial spark settles into an easy familiarity on The Distance. The album feels like a conversation between old friends. These particular friends, of course, happen to be three of the most important figures in today's ambient scene, and they've arrived on a beautiful, if somewhat predictable, second album. Sometime after Clouds had come out, Sterk spoke to Juno Plus about a possible follow-up. "It would have to be recorded in a different setting," he said. "Then the music would sound totally different." The Distance was recorded in Amsterdam, a stone's throw from the studio where Clouds was conceived. Should the trio stray off that beaten path, who knows what might happen.