Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sam Goldberg - Winter Hallucinations (Pizza Night CD-R)

Been waiting to get around to this one for a bit now, but I figured I'd throw up a quick review while I have a spare moment. Sam lay this one on me after I got him over here to play (great night, everyone was killer!) and it's stellar, collecting all three of his Winter Hallucinations cassettes in one place for instant consumption. Given that the cassettes themselves were all only ten minutes long, it's nice to have this stuff in one place, especially considering the nature of the approach here.

At six tracks and about five minutes a piece, each side here delves into a similar approach, making this one of the most listenable things Sam's done. All guitar as far as I can tell, each piece is a gently drifting work that sways with a spare and ethereal quality. Not so much drone as it is ambient, the pieces seem inextricably tied to the apt title, as "Sleet Apologist" seems to emanate vast snowy vibes of hot cocoa terrain. "Winter on Bexley" finds the same mood further honed, and on "White Out" Sam coaxes out thick tones that call to mind Eno and Budd's Plateaux of Mirror far more than any zoner basement material.

Seeing Sam live really puts this stuff in context too. Whereas a lot of these guys build loop after loop as they head into the stratos Sam is all texture, often ending on much the same plane he started on. Never dealing in notes it seems, his playing is always hovering as he bends and coaxes these thick swathes of tone to his liking. While "Eight Candles" might feature some pretty overt guitar playing then, the soft decays and shifting overtones always leave more to the ear than is expected. The closing "Superior Pho" only gets gentler, forming a beautiful stillness atop odd radio transmissions that seems more in line with some John Luther Adams work then a John Olson one. Sam's sound is so together and patient that this is a truly beautiful disc. I'm not sure how available it is but it's definitely over at Volcanic Tongue... well worth snagging if you come across it.

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