Phos Hilaron’s Break in the Sun Till the Sun Breaks Down is the ultimate summer drone album. Effectively tinged with warm buzzes and cosmic flare, the sustained chords capture the drugged twilight and nostalgia. From the tape’s outset, Phos Hilaron unfurls a worn blanket of sonic shimmer to take in the beautiful heat. Melody and harmonics trail up like loose embers until burning out into the haze. The tape’s A-side floats along for a solid 15-minutes in a spacious drift of choral drones. No actual instrumentation is immediately apparent until a miniscule guitar line no more than two or three notes long bubbles in. It’s massive texture that you really get lost in.
The B-side here continues the slow burn but with a more elegiac presence. The piece seems a bit more epic while retaining the muted quality with mock-choir vocals only William Basinksi could dream of. Eventually, dynamic washes of deep synths come and go, lending unimaginable depth to the tape itself.
“Hymn, The Third (Theophany)” is a bonus track included with the tape’s download. The piece bubbles and clips with the same hypnotic headspace as the tape itself but through a lens of cut & paste intent. Much like Fennesz’s earlier blurred experiments, Phos Hilaron find beauty and melancholy in unstable places. They keep the vibe without hurried pace or jarring edits.
There’s an element of anonymity here, given the stark white(/blank) cover and utter lack of artist/recording credits. The project takes its name from “Phos Hilaron,” and ancient Christian hymn referring to a glorious or joyous light. Perfectly fitted for the sonics of this recorded material. Each side is a maxed-out exercise in slow-burning, untitled drone. Is it heavily affected with laptop assistance or lassez-faire production? Not sure; but it doesn’t really matter. This is brilliantly natural drone once again presented by the Sunshine Ltd. label.
postscript: Bummer. It appears as though the label has gone and shut its doors indefinitely.