Friday, 18 September 2009

(12K)inds Of Low-Budget, But Not Cheap Ambient

SEAWORTHY – 1897

Originally taped in a former ammunitions bunker in Sydney (whose date of construction gives the release its title), operated by the Australian Navy until the Gulf War’s era and now unutilized, this record was born from about six hours of location recordings on 4-track cassette, minidisc and computer upon which Cameron Webb – Seaworthy’s deus ex machina – worked for a full year in between the residual free moments granted to him by his first paternity. A gently wavering album divided in crepuscular ambient pieces – stretched drones spreading an imperceptible influence in subtle fashion – and, in particular, shimmering guitars revolving around one, maximum two tonal centres for protracted spans with rare mildly dissonant variations, the whole at times underlined by singing birds and other environmental incidences. Ideal for a parenthesis of quietness when one’s bothered by upsetting thoughts or after a sleepless night, this music does not ask for more than just existing and breathing in close proximity to listeners who don’t feed the insatiable ambition of analytical questioning. Nice enough job, but I’d have preferred a smaller amount of glowing arpeggios in favour of additional motionless auroras: the droning tracks are in fact way better than the rest. An entire CD of them would nearly correspond to a work of art. Instead this is only a pleasurable listen, which is OK in any case.

PILLOWDIVER – Sleeping Pills

German RenĂ© Margraff drives the Pillowdiver project, which takes its origins from economical technical means such as a 4-track cassette (again!) and various stompboxes, the whole fed by the jangling soul of a Fender Jazzmaster, with a modicum of synthesizer and field recordings added for complement. Although the press release defines this CD as a “dark and dreamy album of often-melancholic, post-rock influenced ambience”, to me it sounds like a collection of demos where, technologic poverty notwithstanding, a number of interesting combinations can be individuated. The way in which the guitar chords are layered, the appealing harmony deriving from certain superimpositions despite a thorough straightforwardness, the avoiding of any kind of excessive ingredient are the principal good features of a relaxing, if a little mono-dimensional offer. The actual defect, as far as I’m concerned, is that a few solutions appear indeed too easy, sketchy ideas thrown on tape just to try out the instruments, but which don’t possess any artistic value. Fortunately there are less of these occurrences than pleasing tracks, thus we might consider Sleeping Pills a sufficiently rewarding outing - if you’re not picky, that is.

12k