Here we have Moscow, WV, a new, limpidly frigid, and unusually dynamic drone record by Berkeley-based duo Accentor. There’s a crystalline grace and hugeness on display here, something that’s better appreciated by airing the music out and letting it get loud. That’s right: Like most great works of ambient drone, Moscow, WV demands throaty speakers. I found myself progressively turning the volume up while listening to it, the better to get enveloped by its intergalactic austerity. It shifts tectonically between the quieter moments of drift on Michael Stearns’s Planetary Unfolding, Auburn Lull’s Alone I Admire, and William Fowler Collins’s Perdition Hill Radio. To understate things a smidge, that’s pretty good company.
About those shifts: Like Auburn Lull’s aforementioned, turn-of-the-century masterpiece, Moscow, WV is often filled with brilliant light and airy space. “Winter in Moscow,” for example, basks in a frigid glare, a harshly bright cathedral of ice where frozen synths* trace the clean lines of a forbiddingly beautiful architecture with stark clarity. At other points, however, things take a significantly darker turn, as on the queasy, foreboding “Tomlinson Run,” which pulsates with blackened aggression.
Sometimes, the hugeness of atmosphere, so evident on “Winter in Moscow,” approaches the oppressive, as on “High School Sweetheart’s Baby.” At points like these, the coldness and dryness of sound becomes vacuum-like and hermetic. Elsewhere, drones painstakingly swell from barely-there wisps of aural spacedust into temporally and spatially immersive primordial stews reminiscent of the late, great Celer, like on “Winter in Moscow II.” There’s a forboding maximalism to these minimal drones, and a stargazing feel of neck-craning wonder as well.
Moscow, WV is the first installment of a year-long series of monthly album releases. Apparently, one of the upcoming records is, in the words of Jacob, an Accentor member, “an album of Appalachian noise-folk recorded using only a Nintendo DS.” Yes, please! You can stream Moscow, WV for free at Accentor’s Bandcamp, or you can download it for whatever you wish to pay. Think about the latter option, because Accentor is donating all proceeds made from Moscow, WV for the next month to the American Red Cross to help victims of the Midwestern tornado tragedy.** Accentor: Doing beautiful things with beautiful music.
*Or what sounds like synths to these poor, untrained ears, as Accentor apparently made this record using primarily electric viola and vocoder. Good luck teasing apart and categorizing these icy, wefted tendrils of sound.
**This being relayed to me one week ago from today, so more like three weeks.