Muttley's Deli - 01/07/2018 - A Frashen Ambient Refresher
Originally all published by Daniel Crossley editor on www.fluid-radio.co.uk.
The Declining Winter - Belmont Slope LP
"You show me what's wrong with [being] happy", "it's the rain and the cold" and the "long days that turn lonely".
Whether those lyrics were misheard on the second track here, The Declining Winter certainly are poetic to the core of their musical style. Throughout, there is a rich range of focal points and seemingly intentional miss-hit emotional nerves; skirting around a problem to find a bigger lure - the unknown. It's no less prevalent than on the driving Love And Money-esque fourth track here, with its cut-ups of the realm Slowdive would later create for themselves, the very pigments of post-"Pygmalion".
Generally, The Declining Winter's music travels at a stately pace, and does not be so laid back it falls over. I also detect vocally traces of Piano Magic's Glen Johnson: that husky, rich baritone, clear and sharp, with a soft centre, a Grenache cake carousel. Instrumentally, the guitars have simple patterns to play, and these are also stately, a majestic free float. There are no orchestral dervishes like Elbow, but the voice is also poppy like them, and retains a certain anthem quality down to its boots.
I like the album very much. I remember checking "Home For Lost Souls" in 2015 when it was released. I liked that too, but this record to me is better realised for my interests. There's just so much going on in the layers, all the categorisations fly out the window. It's simply good music, that does not fit into a specific category. That is a success alone; to transcend time and space so effortlessly. And the need to appeal has always been pop music's influence, but here, the Belmont Slope just takes pop in the form of an anorak, a coat-hanger, and hangs its own influences upon it. Quite wonderful - an essential purchase CD fans!
Mark Templeton - Distorted Tourist
If you're familiar with the work of Mark Templeton, you'll know he likes to miniaturise and extemporise a context on top. In terms of musical chops, he chooses sounds that fit the rustic ambient palette, and uses contextual signposts to impression something deeper out of the material. This is what academics mean by extemporising, as far as this layman knows - what I do know is that "Distorted Tourist", a fifteen-minute travelogue into the realms of Herzogian theoretics, is a mighty fine artefact to have, here presented as a book stroke disc operation, and without all the philosophical asides, stands without inebriation.
On its own steam the music could dissolve into the aether too quickly, but this is Templeton's knack: he manages to surfeit the purpose of a worthy riff to continue and bubble-build throughout each recording, so that by the end of each phase, we're left with a general happiness about how things have been going, hearing, et cetera and so on. The music is impossible to pin down to a certain few elements, always evolving without nascent unease, and always purposeful. This is the key strength of the release, whereas other producers might leave less brush daubs on the material, and let the potential decelerate into an arcadian decay.
Stylistically Templeton has always been in the same sort of cache as modern composition composers, such as Deaf Center (Huw Roberts and Otto A. Totland) and James Leyland Kirby (The Caretaker). But there's greater urgency to his work than those artists and a revolvent absorbancy on the factors that can make musique concrete so delectable (see Michael Chion, Trevor Wishart, etc). The fact that over the course of five tracks so much is communicated - without the rusticness becoming chokingly soft - this is the compositional genius. I genuinely think this EP, call it that if you must, deserves to be heard by everyone, and if you were a fan of 2008's "Standing On A Hummingbird" LP. Likewise, it's a superb little nugget.
Federico Dal Pozzo - Untitled V20
Federico Dal Pozzo's latest Krysalisound recording is full of minute pleasures, a ice race avoiding the pinnacle of an all out avalanche. Instead, the sound waves are condensed drone designs based on sound design in its purest form: hum and counterpoint.
Much of the music relies on driving ground fissures, trips to metropolis, and like being stuck in a bunker, a firm grasp of the natural architecture of buildings. So in all, the music is wide ranging with all the experimentalism of a electromagnet inside a complex tape loop studio. One just has to tap on "play" to drift off to the hums of wonder within...
My favourite thing about "VZ0" is its concentric circles, its eddies and loops. These loops transform your sonic environment and offset any energy required to listen to them, meaning they are positively enveloping. I find nothing negative about this record, it's very pure, and succinctly put in its stylistic symbolism. It seems to enact a constructed set of poles that keep tessellating among moving waves of dozy sound. And there are washes of rhythmic passivity too, nothing aggressively done, just true float, real drift and weaving, like a spellcasting, mischevious witch, sunning herself in a weather mirror. These sounds move slowly over the lands like rays of the sun, forever sparkling and coming from a much deeper, encrusted whole.
Perhaps one's true intent becomes known from drones like these. In the searches for deeper meaning, and in general deep thought about life, the mirror reflects back on itself to a projection of powerful musical dualism to soothe the soul. A just exercise, given that the music is only heard when humans choose to listen. Krysalisound label is this under the radar that you can afford to give a unassuming drone suite some companionship, and possibly an endorsement, because this particular experiment is very fine indeed. So yes, not an avalanche of white noise, rather some of the quietest yet most ruminative music I've heard in the last 12 months. Recommendable lusciousness for Steve Roach and Robert Rich fans alike, it's sure to put a wry smile on the sleep ambient scene's brow.
Nadine Byrne - Dreaming Remembering - Ideal Records
Nadine Byrne's latest, "Dreaming Remembering", is a fascinating document. Documentation never glances, constriction never gave us torture. In a way, the prim and proper spared merit of Nadine's curatorial style - short sharp and sweet - is its artistic license to interpret dreams. Like the Antonymes title of that nomenclature, there is much dolallying over thoughtful enterprise here: solid music, melodic integrity, interlocking parts, highly metatarsal movement from the feet up.
Feet or feat? Toe in the water or honeyed experiment? It's the latter, a fortunate answer surely for fans of this label. The lineal direction of the album is to walk a tightrope of strapping synthesiser pads, an atonal sense of harmony and the most sparing use of vocal, that it literally sounds dragged out the other sides of a desert plain. These lyrics, mostly motifs of the titles themselves, deploy a willing, questioning gravitas to the whole operation, as one starts to ponder the gap between dreaming and remembering. Is it just a magical flummox? Something that doesn't make descriptive sense like that comment. Or is dreaming, and remembering, for that matter, further embalmed into the regeneration of the life/death/life cycle than we thought?
Whatever, this is a puzzling dichotomy as musical artifact. Nadine Byrne uses her synthesisers and the placation of musical theatre - a Freudian slip here, an announcement there - to woo her audience in wondrous tapestry, befitting for a time where, in post-apocalyptic trauma exercises of possible third world war over Brexit, is all the more welcome. I enjoy how measured the metres are between each 16-bar phrase, and how metre is often forgotten altogether in favour of random selection. The noises are totally anti-predication, unpredictable, like stepping around an accident waiting to happen put to sound. The only criticism a human could levy here is that there is no glorious mess at the end of the experiment - Highly recommended!