Eurgh, apologies for my slackness of late; it’s been a hectic week of work and bookended by extremely long nights out in London (well, one of them was mostly spent in the dark, drab confines of Northampton station, but that’s a different story), and between that and sleeping it’s not left me massively motivated to talk about any 2012 albums. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any I want to talk about though (after Wednesday’s exam I’ll write something up on Slow Magic’s new LP), but in the meantime I wanted to continue my drone + late-night blogging with this fantastic release.
Drone, when done well, is excellent. There is something deeply satisfying about listening to these amorphous, shapeless and often arrhythmic creations; it takes a special someone to breathe life and emotion into these minimal, seemingly structure-less musical pieces. It’s a delicate business though, trying to get the right balance in terms of length and overlapping of textures; too long and it gets dull, too short and there’s not enough time to let the pieces expand. Too much content drowns out the message, too little and it’s not dense enough to leave an impression. Szczepanik is clearly a man who knows that he’s doing then, because this is damn near perfectly balanced.
What I anticipated would be a very melancholic and introverted release given the title is actually shimmering and bright, beautiful ebbs and flows of shining drone that sound bold enough to almost be orchestral practically demand to be played at high volume, not because they’re quiet but simply because it feels like the right thing to do. It’s like Nicholas is professing his love rather than shunning it and he wants to shout it out, but does so through these glistening walls of sound instead.
In some ways, that’s the best way to do it; drone is such a raw genre, it really transfers emotion in a much more natural way compared to many other forms of music, in my opinion. This slow, bright melody may take a long time to play out but its intentions are clear from the beginning, and over the course of its expanding and contracting journey you just can’t help but feel immersed in its optimism and hopefulness. There is no dead space and neither is it super dense, it feels just right; drone swells shift and change gracefully, overlain with fractionally faster, lighter elements to give it a level of activity. But it is the last 10 minutes or so that are the most magnificent; just one long protracted drone note that just hangs there for an eternity, a stunning, radiant crescendo that warps time and plays tricks on your ears; the careful addition of background elements imperceptibly changes the sound, making this implausibly long musical sigh go further and longer.
At 50 minutes a pop it does demand a bit of time, but I have now dedicated 6 hours to this album in the week I’ve owned it and it somehow manages to get better with every listen. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, just excellent.
9.5/10 (now that doesn’t happen every day)