Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: David Andree - In Streams (Sunshine Ltd., 2011)

While the genre of ambient is perhaps the last genre where a term „arms race” should be used to describe the rivalry between musicians (well, maybe with the exception of New Age), one cannot help but think at times that the artists are taking part in an incredibly slow, almost invisible, languid war in creating the most immersive, spacious and vast sound. And the flowering of small tape labels in the recent years brings to mind such Cold War phrases as “proliferation”. Because it’s true – practically every week the listeners are flooded with at least a dozen tapes, each trying to come closer to ambientalist nirvana, whether is purely electronic, synthesized sound or just processed traditional instruments, like guitar or piano.
In Streams by David Andree, a tape released on Floridian label Sunshine Ltd. comes in a pretty standard package – a blurred, nondescript photo adorns the artwork, giving a taste what the tape will sound like. And the sound on the tape is blurred as fuck – not in a negative way, definitely. The opener, “A Front”, alone, is a good contender to be called ambient track of the year. The drifting sound of an incredibly distant piano, so distant that the instrument’s sound can be barely recognized from under the endless waves of reverb and gentle shimmering drone deep in the background, which creates an impression of a half-remembered beach head in the middle of the winter. David Andree understand the meaning of ambient music – it is impressionist, re-creating the nearly forgotten feelings, drifting the listener of to sleep.
While the rest of the cassette might not come to the opening track in the terms of sheer genius and emotional power, it still provides a strong and massive load of beauty through a series of shorter and longer impressions. Things get interesting on side B when he adds some interesting glitch elements to the overall ambience, which may or may not have been inspired by Tim Hecker or the German digital minimalists like Oval. For example, the gentle clicking loop of “Gradually Drifting Along” sounds like a smoothed out version of Oval’s “Do While” off his 94 Diskont album. The closing 11-minute suite “Only to Pass Overhead, Dissapearing in the Distance” sounds truly like a bonus track from Tim Hecker’s 2003 Radio Amor.
David Andree might show us the future. While the endless repeating of a simple synth melody deliberately recorded in a lo-fi quality might start to appeal stale and dead end-ish, the fascination with gentle digital manipulation of glitch-like aesthetics in real-time, while playing (the cassette’s inlay states there were no overdubs) might be making a break in tape scene arms race.

The tape is available from Sunshine Ltd. Purchase it on the store website.

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