Thursday, 1 September 2011

Out on a Limb, 2

I've only got two albums to speak highly of for 2011, for now anyways, as I realise I've spent most of my time really enjoying old classical vinyl (yawn), polished genre music or reissues. The year's been great for the latter - John Beltran's Ambient Selections, Soul Jazz's Mysteron Killer Sounds, <i>Gene Hunt Presents Chicago Dance Tracks, with plenty of good House genre work from Workshop, Omar-S, Roman Flugel, Morphosis and plenty others. But adventure is hard to do, which is why these impressed:

Surgeon: Breaking the Frame
Much contemporary techno leaves me cold, particularly when heard in non-club contexts (all my listening these days). Its general lack of melody and reliance on more physical properties - volume, textural density and sheer thrust - make for lackluster listening through headphones. But Surgeon's latest was astounding, particularly the beatless tracks - my focus here. By channeling the surge of Whitehouse Noise and Alice Coltrane Free-Jazz Spirituality into vast, multilayered throbs Surgeon has created a kind of rhythm-less dance music, and proposed a new(ish) direction for techno producers/DJs to explore. Like much of the zeitgeist it works by ferreting about with existing music (A Coltrane, Whitehouse) but the result in tracks like 'Presence' and 'We Are Already Here' remains firmly Techno despite the absence of drums. Mind Bomb noticed something peculiar about the physical record too:
One is that the vinyl version beginsinside the run-in groove, especially for the techno track “The Power of Doubt” suggesting perhaps that it has “broken the frame” as it exists outside the physical space of the record' is interesting here too.

Kyle Bobby Dunn: Ways of Meaning
This is like the polar opposite of Surgeon, a record so soft and wispy as to have almost no momentum nor substance. Kyle Bobby Dunn works in vapour, gorgeous scented mist on Ways of Meaning, an album so amorphous and shamelessly pretty it feels unnatural in 2011. Nothing structurally new here, tones mostly taken from Eno's Apollo soundtracks, but the sustained cotton wool nebulousness, and Dunn's ability to keep us interested within such uniformity, makes Ways of Meaning a geuinely outstanding ambient release.

Kyle Bobby Dunn - Canyon Meadows by desire path recordings

Kyle Bobby Dunn - Canyon Meadows from joe morgan on Vimeo.

More on the genre work later.

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