Awake is the product of a live-in-the-studio collaboration between Mike Shiftlet, one of those always-busy noise types, and High Aura’d, a pretty active musician himself. Both turn principally to guitar, and build up lovely walls of improvised sonic mass. Heavy, but also soothing. 500 copies only, on Type.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 05 March 2015
A sort of man-made field recording, if you like: noisemakers Mike Shiflet and John Kolodij made all the sounds for collaborative effort ‘Awake’ happen, but it was the environment around them that shaped their course and made the shimmer you hear. Getting together and scattering their disconfigured, distorted guitar performance through their amps, they hoped their laissez faire approach would reveal a third musician: sorry for the never-ending cliche, but it’s the space around them.
Both Shiflet and Kolodij are accomplished improvisers and both are also capable of making something beautiful out of chaos: there’s a serenity to the noise of ‘Awake’, with feedback interspersed with gorgeous, crystalline notation and abstracted ambience that sounds neither inviting nor repulsive -- merely a pretty shade of neutral. At times, it’s as if the guitar mumblings of Loren Connors have been processed through a torrent of overdrive disasters.
There’s structure in this chaos, too: a strikingly subtle post-rock influence opens up the record proper, seemingly creating a sonic symbol for the eyes opening after a long sleep: ‘Awake’, much? It’s the sound of Do Make Say Think distorted that compels this record onward before it descends into a foggy clusterfuck of dissonance by way of a less myopic Skullflower. Here the idea of collaborating with one’s environment feels more obvious: there’s a sense in which Shiflet and Kolodij occasionally intertwine their own ideas with a purer onslaught of noise and echo. The best track, though, is also the record’s most new age, which brings together found sounds of chiming crickets, chirping birds and swaying plants with barely coalescing guitar picks and subtle blemishes of amp noise. Shiflet and Kolodij ask the world a question with their instruments, and it responds with kindness.
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- Awake by Mike Shiflet & High Aura'd
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