Trevor De Brauw is the guitarist of Pelican, and this is his first solo release. Although don’t assume that he’s only just had the idea: Uptown has been slowly created over the course of the last ten years. Uptown pushes away from songs and riffs and into dense drone-ambient territory, where it turns out Trevor is a master of the kind of careful control needed to really succeed with this stuff. CD and LP editions on The Flenser.
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As our internet cycles through death and reincarnation in turns so dramatic I fail to understand how exactly we became certified as a mail-order website, I’m comforted by the knowledge that the guy from Pelican has made an ambient record. Shirking his responsibilities as a lord of post-metal, he brings out ‘Uptown’ like a peace offering, a still and largely optimistic collection of ruminations with soft packets of guitar distortion and twanging lo-fi songs. Despite its ominous shades and its Flenser-branded melancholy, this record largely feels beautiful and comforting.
I know it doesn’t always seem that way. Many of these tracks owe their existence to distorted guitar rubble that sends a signal of disquiet -- but they’re juxtaposed with lovely tones and sweet synth blemishes. The record’s muted epic of a closer, “From The Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang”, offers jubilant guitar crunch alongside soft chord changes, the two mixing like two separate songs running towards an embrace with one another. A massive choral drone comes slowly sailing our way on “Distant Frequency”, but it dovetails into absent-minded guitar pickings not dissimilar to Loren Connors; the foreground is fear, but these warm sounds give us something to cultivate against it.
It’s an amazingly rich record, even though it mostly sounds like debris of songs, like a record parting with this world entirely. Brauw’s interest in mixing terrestrial drones with songlike permutations makes for a record both dramatic and soothing; whether riffing metal or sustaining the elements, he never stops turning corners on himself.
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- Uptown by Trevor De Brauw
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