This excellent album is defined by sections of warm guitar drones and wide-scope bells placed over rushing sounds of nature – wind, rain, creaking wood, etc.; these aspects seamlessly kaleidoscope through six movements of deeply fluctuating sound, via a series of drones that subtly vary pitch, reminiscent in their feel to the drone tape style circa 2006-2008, prior to the shift to a predominant use of synthesizers within the form.
The synthesis of style and content is extremely well done here. Along with Attenuated’s “Night of Sense,” Tidal and Rambutan’s split LP, and Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s “Civilian Life,” this album shows that 2012 is already developing as a strong period for strikingly heavy drone releases whose creators share a common ability to bring the listener into their artistic process.
The subject matter of the work seems to be one of psychedelia without sentimentality: titles like “The Northern Sky Ablaze” and “River Runs like Jewels” convey mental images of bright and overwhelming color, while titles like “Sleep Like the Dead” and “Methodist Bells” convey an American-Gothic feel, or at least a version of America that was once defined by a haunted, superstitious people and landscape.
The mental associations brought to bear by the album’s song titles are fully borne out by the music; the form used is a continuous, echoing Monument Valley of negative-charged emotion and crushingly heavy aural space that transitions at times into sylvan and peaceful emotional shades. This last quality is particularly profound, in that it conveys serious emotion without falling into the trap of mawkishness.
Music that is written so that it brings the listener into the world of its compositional structure is very important, and this album accomplishes that feat; moreover, it adds to a long list of experimental releases of the last number of years which demonstrate artistic integrity and an absolute faith in its style. It’s fortunate that the internet has provided access to music such as this, which is cut off from many of the other avenues of the music business.
This last point I think is important: as so called “indie-rock” has turned more and more in the last ten years into either music used to sell cars and deodorant for huge advertising companies, having the musical integrity, appropriately enough, of a sophomoric Wieden+Kennedy commercial – or worse, is seen as an alternative to law or business school for arrogant young men and women who view art as just another vehicle to further their careers, we are fortunate that so many artists are operating on their own for the sake of the music itself.
It’s a shame, however, that genuine artists such as this do not have the amount of attention or financial backing as charlatans such as the abominable Wavves or YACHT, or the utterly contemptible Salem, or artists who wear the “experimental” tag like a fashionable accessory – people such as Grimes, who have talent for songwriting but who put forward such a high level of insincerity that it reads to their audience as sincerity. Then again perhaps that is for the better.