With releases on Peasant Magik, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, Ruralfaune and Students of Decay all within a few months, Slow Listener from Brighton, UK, are one of the most prominent new names in the free-noise field. And this cdr on the Epicene imprint proves once more why so many good labels are into this dynamic blend of guitar feedback and electronic drones.
The stunning opener ?I?m unanimous in that? starts on an Earthen note, with some of the very first chords taking their hat off to ?Harvey? from the ?Phase 3? album. When, after just under 12 minutes, the opener comes to an abrupt halt as if someone had pulled the plug, it has become clear that the reference to the pioneers of metallic drone is somewhat programmatic. If compared to the Ruralfaune cdr, for example, ?Sundowner? is heavier, less electronic. Even if the following track, ?When Was Yesterday?, is dominated by forlorn synth jingling. That track, however, is only an interlude before ?In Case Of a Fire or Amnesia? with its shredding feedback and braying distortion takes over. Yes, Slow Listener are slow. Yes, to describe their sound ? as Campbell Kneale has ? as ?slumberpunk? is not totally inadequate. And yet what really intrigues me is how utterly dynamic, how polymorph and animate the better Slow Listener tracks are, proving that simplicity doesn?t have to be boring.
I have to admit, though, that I find it difficult to listen to the 56 minutes of ?Sundowner? in one session. I guess that?s because I don?t like the hidden track that is based on shrill electronic noise and getting on my nerves. But it might also be because most of the tracks are so intense on a micro-level and at the same time so good at creating tension over a distance of more than ten minutes that you are practically floored after some 30 minutes. I do wonder, therefore, if two separate 3?s or a cassette with its obligatory intermission wouldn?t reflect Slow Listener?s momentum more effectively. It should be mentioned that this cdr is limited to 30 copies. A ridiculous number, really. Let?s hope there?ll be reissues of some of the rarer Slow Listener releases, soon. 7/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (19 September, 2007)