Delicate worlds laced with old vinyl dusty fuzz and crackle. Think the forced yet gentle nostalgia of Leyland Kirby’s The Future or his The Caretaker material, but no big band sound, more music box or single toy piano, bits of solo cello and twisted vocal harmonies, found in a box in the family attic.
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- Stills by Danny Clay
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There is, I’ll admit, enough warm drone in the world. There’s such an abundance of it, in fact, that there’s now a label named Warm Drone Label, as if accepting the endless coat of wallpaper being painted over old walls. I know we don’t need more, I accept we’re at ambient capacity, but can we please squeeze Danny Clay’s ‘Stills’ into the picture?
The music box tinkerer and debris droner has made a plethora of lovely records over the past couple years, whether low on concept (such as his archival collection for French label Eilean) or highly-strung (he made a record for local pals Hibernate that stretched out a Schubert motif into an ambient stream). Here, he helps multimedia label IIKKI get their start, joining forces with photographer and collagist Katrien De Blauwer for a book-slash-record that meditates on the delights and frustrations of nostalgia.
We’ve only got the record version of the edition on our shelves, but Clay’s music here largely sounds like a perfection of his previous works: it glitches around hiss and sonic fumbles, allowing flourishes and loops of music box and piano to centre and heat up wind-worn landscapes. This record feels, in places, like he’s come to it with a bit of compositional foresight, with piano motifs actually taking hold of certain tracks, vocal-like hums pushing forward melodies and the viola supplements of Paula Karolak offering some degree of sentimentality.
Overall, though, Clay’s obsession with loops and fragments is what makes this record special: he doesn’t present nostalgia as a loose memory recalled from one to another -- rather, he presents it as an internal feeling we can allow to float in and out of our peripheral vision, devoid of its original mapping. It’s like Jóhann Jóhannsson making edits of Caretaker tunes. The deja vu of it all.
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