“Informal Meditation” is fucking amazing, a truly compelling and interesting piece of work that should be sought out by any means necessary. With that out of the way, a brief description is in order. Recorded using an iPhone on two separate live dates in Texas, this tape is an excellent distillation of Derek Rogers’ strengths. Robust synthesizer parts are looped and contrasted with brittle filter sweeps; fractured bits of melody tentatively appear, set against rough clattering sounds; sonic counterpoints abound within the multiple layers of texture, creating distinct patterns both flowing and rife with tension. Through it all Rogers maintains a disciplined sense of development; each long piece here has a sharp focus, gliding through their long running times without a superfluous note or passage.
Side A’s spare intro gradually becomes a lush middle section, elegant and languid; warm synth tones gently rise and fall in swells around each other. The initial murmurs of conversation at the club work well as another layer of sonic interest, gradually losing their place in the mix as the synth patterns become larger in size. Mellow, drifting chords give way to a church-organ drone as Rogers guides the piece forward; instead of covering the beauty of this part in crusty noise in the manner of Tim Hecker, Rogers leaves the part unadorned, and the piece is well-served by this move. The opiated sadness of the organ decays into a biting, distorted synth sound, its quaver adding to the overall melancholy. Rogers brings the original synth figure back for a brief revisitation, its woozy melody further bent and refigured, before finishing gently amidst crowd noise.
Side B’s piece sets itself up with an amalgam of harsher sounds; digital detritus competes with stuttering metallic sounds, veering from cymbals to what might be the sound of colliding folding chairs. An explosive punch in the low end propels the intro toward its conclusion while looped cymbals congeal and fracture in the mix. Rogers turns to the drone again, offering up a beauty of a synth part, simple and magisterial, elegant and subtle. The tranquil mood suddenly fades, as the scrapes and pops of a contact mic alternate with a staccato synth chord. It’s a small touch, but a clever one, as the drone’s bliss is jettisoned like extra ballast in order to create something more immediate and unpredictable. After a brief detour into this area Rogers heads back into innerspace, returning to an epic drone to wind the piece (and performance) down.
This has been another in a series of outstanding recent releases by both Derek Rogers and label No Kings; Rogers has released a couple of 3″ CD-Rs on Kendra Steiner Editions recently that are also worth checking out, while No Kings is on a roll that has continued with killer recent tapes from Stephen Molyneux and Andreas Brandal. Go check out what you can from either one; you won’t go wrong.
No Kings Record Cadre