Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Slow Listener - Desolation Sound (Tape Drift CD-R)
UK-based Slow Listener is the one man drone project of Robin Dickinson, whose slowly churning and burning works are in great demand, having earned him releases on labels including Ruralfaune, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon and Students of Decay. Where so many drone artists today opt for a dense fog of sound through which they can shoot pieces of melody or texture though, Slow Listener opts for a far more demanding, and ultimately viscerally effective take on the medium.
Desolation Sound is made up of two tracks. The first, "Tempts Fate," is a near twenty-five minute epic. Opening with the sound of a bellowing fog horn, the piece moves on from that point as if it is breaking that sound into its smaller and simpler constituent parts, from which he further extracts sounds, layering one upon another until they become a thing of stark and lurching beauty. It's not happy music to be sure, but as the work moves through its various stages--which include densely cluttered miniature works all their own, harsher industrial landscapes or high frequency buzzing riding above mid-tone oscillations, to name a few--it develops a strange balance between meditative and massive. No one sound can not be derived from the last it seems, making for a contiguous heap requiring in its present all that has come before. By the end, it is nearly too much to keep track of.
The second track, "Lack Thereof," is a slightly more manageable sixteen minutes, although this too is heavy and slow, a black hole of a piece. Opening with high bird-like calls, the piece eventually adds what sounds like one of those electric hair razors trimming away at shreds of tiny follicles, as if trying to get to the real heart of the matter one piece at a time. These sounds further mutate, the birds eventually dissolving into the background before the guitar razor spends the next ten minutes or so just shaping and reshaping itself against faint high notes or distant echoing low-end bellows. It's beautifully intricate and paced masterfully so as to leave enough time to highlight each and every subtle difference.
Released on Eric Hardiman's (of Century Plants) own Tape Drift label a while back, but maybe still available. Beautiful little package with a big big sound.