"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Monday, 19 May 2014

Stringent steps

'Psychedelic minimalism' indeed. Cory Allen's journey beyond the exquisite electro-pointillism that made him a natural sparring partner for the great Steinbruechel (on Seams, an entrant in LMYE's Festive 50 a couple of years back...) takes him ever further into novel territory that seems to need some name of its own - preferably one less dreary than the utilitarian 'electro-acoustic improvisation'. So PM it is... 

"As the perfection of the digital age continues to tighten its grip on the organic quality of analog, I felt a need to gently take a few steps back from the stringent digital world in order to find balance. Sometime over the last two years, my interest shifted to the subtleties of the analog bandwidth, and more specifically, the artifacts or errors that occur in the analog medium as a source," he wrote (for Fluid Radio) a while back

(Allen's successful pursuit of the "beauty of degraded analog sources" - sourced from "bad cable grounding signals, poor antenna connections, shoddy field recordings and blank spots on aged vinyl records" - is displayed in the lovely blur of his Shutter Echo below...). 

Already signalled by last year's gripping 'ensemble drone' workout The Great Order (again a Festive 50 component, at the turn of this year), Allen's move to an acoustic aesthetic stands out as a striking, unexpected re-invention.

Now it underpins two forthcoming releases that seem likely to count among the year's most cherished by these ears - The SourceThe Seeker and The Healer, the latter a collaboration with another member of the LMYE pantheon, Duane Pitre, that adds yet more lustre to the increasingly essential Students of Decay.  

(In his Feel Free, ED09 & other works, Pitre too has happily married an experimental approach with an acoustic ensemble setting, of course.)

As well as PM, Allen tags Source's almost Tantrically prolonged Divine Waves (hear below) as 'cello bass meditation'. A spacious meditativeness may well be what connects his early & later work.

It's also much in evidence on the keeningly resonant TS&TH, meanwhile, which unveils & showcases Allen's self-invented 49-string drone harp - not quite Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument, but not far off. 

"With these works, my intent is to find a balance between the living nature of analog and the magic perfection of digital, all the while imprinting the most fundamental aesthetic of all; the human spirit."  

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