Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hess/Tilman: Departures

Steven Hess (drums, vibraphone) and Miles Tilman (electronics) are part of Fessendon which was reviewed a couple of months ago (december). Here they work as a duo on Departures, a vinyl-only release on Other Electricities.

This is a stunning ambient album - while there are three tracks on either side they tend to flow into each other and separately identifying them is always hard: trying to see where the groove structure changes. But basically this is one that I have put on and then just allowed to wash over me until it sadly ends, trun it over and start again, or stay on the same side. Hess sets up rhythms and melodies which then get fractured looped smeared and rendered through Tilman's electronics. Sometimes you are there at the start of a sequence such as the opening asleep/awake where the percussion mutates into a hazy atmospheric wonder or the rumbling crackle, drum-kit and bells/gongs that is echoed and pattered to ambient heaven in arrivals with washes and a terminal flurry. Doppler has more beats in there amongst the electronic playfulness; percussion cascades into tonal pleasures. But within each developed and developing soundwork there are emergent percussive components, identifed elements from the analog origin. The final track, six by six, adds Michael Dahlman (no indication of what he does) for a final pulsing throbbing evolving rolling sound mystery that encompasses you.

This is the type of album that makes me pleased I have still got a player set up. It is engrossing but mysterious and mercurial, hypnotic and intense - but strangely not dark. Get a new needle for your turntable and flota away.