Dronewave reviews: Nels Cline + G.E. Stinson, Dempster-Heasley-Rieman.


Nels Cline + G.E. Stinson, "Elevating Device" (Sounds Are Active)

This 44 minutes of continuous music by Los Angeles guitarists/electromen Nels Cline and G.E. Stinson represents the most satisfying new slice of abstraction I heard in 2009. It told me this story.

Orange alert turns to red; giant mutant creatures burst through safety glass.

After a cataclysmic storm, the world drips with atomic metal rain.

Dying machines and humans gather in a heaven of coruscating light.

The firmament breathes with dignity and sorrow.

A new dawn breaks.

Elements of light travel the stars in sadness until they plunge into the waters of a distant world.

New life vibrates, struggles and evolves.

Multiplicity boils and evaporates into a unified corona around a cold, slowly revolving sun.

The sun throbs and agitates; geysers of harsh light burst from within.

The sphere destabilizes, peels slowly apart and expands until it fills the void with white.

That's the story "Elevating Device" told me; it will tell you another story, beautiful in a different way. This kind of thing could encourage belief in an ordered universe.

"Elevating Device" is available here.


Stuart Dempster-Tom Heasley-Eric Glick Rieman, "Echoes of Syros" (Full Bleed)

Musicians enjoy recording in the 200-million-gallon Ft. Worden Cistern near Port Townsend, Washington, because of its 45-second reverb. I'm glad Dempster, Heasley and Rieman were among those musicians.

The cistern reverb works a special magic when it encounters bass tones, and luckily Dempster and Heasley play didgeridoo and tuba, among other things. They also discovered that sustained tones built extraordinary dimension in this environment. So the record's title track is really something. It feels like water -- like whale sounds and sloshing depths and the murmurs of reclusive spirits (the last generated in part by Rieman's prepared Rhodes piano). The drone's sensual profundity never wearies as the music rolls with a slow dynamism, birthing a dramatic increase in bass intensity halfway through its 34 minutes. A kind of molten Led Zeppelin flow -- like "No Quarter" slowed to 9rpm -- even shows up via the aqueous theme and the dark mood. You may want to use the cut as an environmental loop in your house; its solemn embrace can probably heal everything from depression to dandruff.

If the record's three other rattle-tweak-bounce improvisations don't carry the same weight, they hardly could. But "Echoes of Syros" is the main event; play it loud.

"Echoes of Syros" is available at CDBaby and at Amazon.com.