Some spiritual alleviation from Danny Clay. Ganymede are eight works from the Midwestern artists and producer. These pieces came to life when Clay took a bit of Schubert's Ganymed, disentangled the parts and created his own piece of ambient wellness. His studio wizardry shows how much one can do with the smallest amount of musical matter. Expansive, organic and warm, this is one for a warm summers day. Out on CD from Hibernate.
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It must be a delight making warm drone and getting to hop from one gorgeous and plaintive label to the next, and I certainly envy Danny Clay’s recent imprint holidaying. Just last year he took some time off to do some sonic ruminations for the amazing Eilean Records, a collective working tirelessly to put out a hundred drone records that point to a hundred different places on an imagined map; his contribution to this noble and unabashedly sentimental cause was ‘Archive’, which connected faintly related pieces for music box, piano and tape. I’m sure he enjoyed his stay as much as we loved listening to it, but the drone nomad has now traveled to the gently stoical Hibernate, another label that deftly weaves together unexpected sounds with comforting ones.
Taking that juxtaposition of beautiful and academic in its stride, Clay’s ‘Ganymede’ is a work that repurposes Schubert’s piece “Ganymed” by stretching out its opening bars into a wholly new piece of sound art. The record’s bulk holds a sustained, yawning drone as its beating heart while field recordings tinker and scuffle -- the effect is like watching an ecosystem up at close range before it slowly pans out so we can see each microscopic interaction. This seems to be Clay’s desire; he claims to have wanted his interpretation of Schubert’s work to continue “indefinitely”, and the music sounds like a constant attempt at slowing down slow motion.
These three compositions -- one of which is stretched into six suites, the final two self-contained works -- are not technically sparse, but Clay makes them sound it. He’s collated a strange and chaotic orchestra of the mundane, using prepared instruments (“plastic cups with needles, combs and baby monitors”, as Hibernate notes) and a recurrence of his music boxes. At points, Clay’s overarching drone textures dissipate and leave little more than these affected recordings, which offer the gentle, everyday noise that WANDA GROUP has strived to normalise in ambient. These sounds appear as simply part of a natural environment -- it’s hard to think of them as prepared when they stutter outward as waterfalls and raindrops might. What ‘Ganymede’ offers is reassuringly eternal sound -- it will at least be around longer than we are.
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- Ganymede by Danny Clay
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