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Psychedelic music blog covering psychedelic, folk, drone, metal, and all other forms of out music.

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Seaworthy + Matt Rösner – Two Lakes

February 17, 2012

seaworthy matt rosner two lakesTwo Lakes, a collaboration between Australian sound artists Seaworthy + Matt Rösner, is among the most immediately immersive and engrossing drone records I’ve ever heard.  Seaworthy + Matt Rösner have wefted together documentary recording and improvised drone collaboration into a seamless, arresting, long-form piece as arresting as it is stately.  That last sentence wasn’t review-speak.  This is quite an achievement, something this duo manages to accomplish by exhibiting a steadfast dedication to patience and to judicious movement when employing elements from their carefully chosen palette.

On Two Lakes, there are few sounds at any given moment.  Those that are present at said moment compose a gorgeously wrought vignette of nearly austere reserve.  However, what gives the record its considerable power is the deliberate movement between these sounds, how and when certain pieces fade into and out of the track.  The mixing on Two Lakes is impeccable: The resonant burbling churn and slosh of water on “Meroo Rockshelf,” for example, dissolves into the clean, pastoral drones of “Meroo Sedgeland Pt. 1” in a way that’s surprising and gripping, yet somehow still feels inevitable.  And the album is nothing less than a succession of these revelations from the beginning to the end.

Music like this—and by “like this,” I mean music that’s designed to be beautiful, peaceful, contemplative, and impressionistic—is rarely actively engaging.  If it weren’t for albums like Two Lakes, it would be easy to assume that listener engagement and drifting, naturalistic, minimalistic ambient music are mutually exclusive.  The fact is, few albums reach this level of imposed contemplation,* but Two Lakes is certainly one of them.

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*Two other albums I can think of that do are the Olivia Tremor Control’s Explanation II: Instrumental Themes and Dream Sequences, one of the most unfairly forgotten ambient records of all time, and Taylor Deupree’s Northern.

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The New Mummies – K-l-a-n-g-!

February 13, 2012

K-l-a-n-g-!new mummies klang, a new record by Austin-based, Rochester transplants the New Mummies, is sequenced like a nocturnal diver’s upward drift through black water towards air, beginning in murk and ending in (relative) clarity.  The album begins with three noisy drones—”Bridges Out,” “The Servants Call,” and “Delayed Response”—that progress from deeply abstracted tracks that approach musique concrete into a humid, delay-drenched menace reminiscent of Zelienople’s more diffused moments.  There’s more activity in these drones than you’d expect, given that genre signifier.  Rather than constructing pieces built around glacial progression, the New Mummies opt for more rapid crescendos.  Sounds identifiable and otherwise—disembodied chants, burbling tones, guitar arpeggios released on slow, careening trajectories—churn through the mix.

Elsewhere, as on “Caught in the Underfield,” songs (more or less) coalesce out of a swampy haze, during which the New Mummies channel No Wave-primitivism through a particularly bleak form of outsider folk to create a sort of desolate dark pop.  These songs, with the exception of the anthemic closer “Campaign for Wellness,” feel lucid only in relation to the trio of drones that open K-l-a-n-g-!.  Indeed, the New Mummies take every opportunity to tear these songs apart, plunging them in cascading reverb, ripping out the low end, tightly wrapping vocals in rapidly decaying delay, and subjecting them to the microphone-on-the-other-side-of-the-room lo-fi recording methods of early Magik Markers.  The result is a series of particularly emotionally direct songs made moreso by their obvious fragility, their precarious cobbling-together.

Given multiple, divergent threads of influence, it would be easy for the New Mummies to try to do to much here.  But  like Sparklehorse’s classic Good Morning Spider*, K-l-a-n-g-!‘s willfully de(con)structive production methods serve as a crucial binding agent, providing the common thread that runs through these quietly unsettling drones and dirges.

Enjoy it on their Bandcamp.

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* Which, despite sounding absolutely nothing like K-l-a-n-g-!, is a surprisingly handy signifier for it, being an album similar in fractured lonesomeness and fractured construction.

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