Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sparkling Wide Pressure - Seven Inside and Out (Stunned Records CS)

More from Stunned today, this time around with Frank Baugh's absolutely beautiful Sparkling Wide Pressure project. Having put out stuff on Students of Decay and a couple others, Frank's stuff has had some time to gestate, and this is easily his best yet. A half hour of total lucid dream sound journeys that meet somewhere between the outer reaches of your memory and the inner workings of your pulse.

The first side opens with "Color First," whose high pitched undulations and thick bottom drone create a vast space in between for Baugh to inject drifting melodies via glitched out electronics and circuit bent toy tones. Airy and light, but hardly cosmic, Baugh instead goes for a kind of birds' eye view of the orange marshes of Minnesota--a kind of quiet and settled solitude that pervades the work. "Creeping Cloth Roadway" follows in to grimmer territory as organ progressions and mournful vocal lines loop about each other Phantom of the Opera style, only this time around the Phantom is wearing ear muffs and playing some analog synth, patch cables abounding. A slow pulse enters as strange melodies interweave among one another, never becoming so cloudy and aimless so as to not maintain an ample sense of space. Drifts apart slowly too, like leaves decomposing in the snow--more melancholic than angry or outright sad. Far too insular for that kind of outward expression of established mental states.

Second side opens with "Outside, Above my Head," whose guitar strums and back porch vibe feed off of the same intimate quietude as the first track had. Baugh's gentle wordless, worldless vocals are met with subtle synth undulations and bird calls that sound less transposed than simply present at the time of recording. Soon the vocals drift off into thinly spread synth lines that boundlessly emit themselves to the outer corners of some distant lake before echoing back to contribute to the patiently building works. Baugh lays down some guttural vocalizings that move the whole thing into some weird nowhere land of Appalachian ritual. The closing "Rock Wall" is, as its name suggests, a total stagnant brewing of locationless, colorless glacier sound worlds. The thickest thing on the tape, the piece just lurks around the rest of the terrain Baugh has woven like some mythic shadow spirit--no one seems to see it, but you can sense when it's there. Beautiful wall of crescendoing notes above a thick bassy drone that just mumbles and grumbles under its own weight. Totally crushing in its mysterious beauty.

Total winner from Sparkling Wide Pressure, easily the best thing I've heard from him yet, and of course beautifully packaged from the ever-amazing Stunned label. They nail the cover art over and over there--if you ever need a good argument for the package as a whole, their stuff be it. The music, the look, it all contributes to a new whole that you just can't get with a digital file. Duh.

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