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This is the work of Steven Hess and Michael Vallera. Hess is a frequent collaborator and has worked with Greg Davis, Robert Hampson, Miles Tillman, Sylvain Chauveau etc. Michael Vallera has had stuff out on Catholic Tapes and Reverb Worship. I began listening to the record for the first time at the end of a long day in the office and decided to bring it home to listen in a non-chaotic and more subdued environment. It's working a treat on the headphones right now as opener 'When the ground Is Close' slowly builds with immense tension from the blurry decayed sounds, like something lurking in the shadows there is a sense of anticipation which is simultaneously un-nerving and to these ears perversely euphoric. It's clear from the offset here that we are in superior drone territory as the track fades with sustained chimes that induce head scratching as to where I've just been and where I am about to go. 'Staying For The Winter' begins with heavily reverbed and cavernous echoing clanks while tape hisses sound like a distant waterfall. I am now fully submerged in the unknown as a hovering tone quivers above the darkness. As the stoned dubby sounds progress I momentarily pull back from being deeply absorbed to conclude that these guys really do possess a deft sleight of hand at the controls and know exactly what they're doing here, as subtle layers are introduced into the mix making for some seriously deep listening. The track proceeds to drift into mysterious and uncertain realms. A swift flip of the vinyl and we reach 'Nests' which sounds like that glorious sound I adore whilst being semi conscious on a train, finding secret rhythms in the sound of the friction between metal wheels and train tracks. The industrial clanging subsides and ambient tones come to the fore while the smudged metallic sounds fade and dissolve before what sounds like decomposing field recordings of traffic as heard underwater take over. I imagine the ebb and flow of ocean swells superimposed over the chaos of spaghetti junction. Muffled engine sounds juxtaposed with breaking and cascading waves all mushed up. Finally 'False Morning' has a smothered percussive loop and then breaks out into drums looping and lurking beneath a mid-range slightly gritty drone which gradually increases in intensity, a little doomy even, but the anchor of the drums hold it back from that totally blackened zone. The drums skitter and sway inducing a feeling of impending sea sickness but retire before things get too disorientating. Quality as usual from this reliable Chicago imprint. Limited edition heavyweight white vinyl inc. download code. Superb stuff and totally recommended.
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