Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drones for the young

Astute drone followers will have already noticed Kyle Bobby Dunn from his early limited-to-150 release Six Cognitive Works on the Swedish label Kning, or more likely from Sedimental album Fragments & Compositions, released in 2008 and favorably reviewed in big international music media. Although Six Cognitive Works has an occasional noisy edge (Dunn put it in the genre Rock and added Death Metal to its styles in its Discogs entry — a wry exaggeration but there it is), the six surreal Fragments are reportedly composed from sourced piano and classical strings. His newest release, a double CD on Nottingham's Low Point ironically titled A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn (Dunn was born in 1986, pretty young himself), further clarifies the harmonies behind the drones, setting up a serenity occasionally rippled with darker undercurrants. Like his Low Point labelmate Celer, Dunn's sources are typically acoustic and classical instruments, from which he composes extended slow drifts wrapped in lush harmonies.

The first four tracks in the YPG are a CD reissue of four (of five) tracks on his digital album Fervency, released in 2009 on Moodgadget. This collection of "aged guitar drones" locates its origins distant behind the processing, through the subdued rhythmic attacks that quietly drive There Is No End To Your Beauty and the strumming suggestions in Butel. The harmonies are largely diatonic and slow moving, but with extensive interplay in the overtones. Beauty's dual melodies seem like David Hykes' overtone singing, where two independent yet related melodic lines intertwine, while The Tributary (For Voices Lost) uses short melodic fragments, repeating and combining into islands of harmonic stability. Promenade shimmers with lots of high overtones as well before taking a weird turn into a watery swamp.

Like Fragments & Compositions, the remaining eight pieces on the YPG use real players on strings, horns, and piano for the sound sources, and these pieces divide between sustained drone works and two shorter pieces for piano and room ambience. On the drones, the sonic origins are never displayed so evidently as on the former album's Miranda Rights; perhaps violins are present on Empty Gazing: perhaps Bonaventure's Finest Hour contains horns. The border separating sounds from processing is more fluid here in Dunn's developing vision. The overtone counterpoint from the first disc is continued with revolving pillars of sound over a two-note oscillation in The Second Ponderosa and the warm, gorgeous and melodic horn calls in Bonaventure. The piano pieces, especially Sets of Four (Its Meaning Is Deeper Than Its Title Implies), have a similar structure to the drone pieces, and suggests how Dunn creates his music on stage in live performance.

Dunn's music has a serenity that comes from a languorous pace, melodic fragments over vaguely diatonic harmonies, and a bright shimmer over the whole sound, hiding some kinds of dissonance that never become threatening but peacefully coexist with the tranquillity. The solo piano recordings have an unsettling ambience from their low-fi recording quality, so foreign to the pristine goals of most classical artists. Pieces that start off in tranquillity veer into uncharted dreams. Empty Gazing's submerged voices and the dissonant low frequency feedback concluding The Tributary both demonstrate the presence of darker forces, calmly and from a measured distance. The album's darkest moment comes at the very end of the last track, The Nightjar. After nearly two hours of drifting bliss, Dunn plays a segment of dialogue from a film he made over a decade ago about a couple of hallucinating and unhinged private investigators. The dialogue will guarantee that nobody will use the second disc for sleep music more than once, and ties this collection to the more noisy Cognitive Works. Astute drone followers will pick up this Young Person's Guide (available directly from Low Point) and continue to seek out the fragmented compositions of Kyle Bobby Dunn.

1 comment:

crow said...

Nice to see you back, fresh content!