v/a: SMM: Opiate (Ghostly International, 2013)

October 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: SMM: Opiate

v/a: SMM: Opiate

Following Ghostly’s SMM: Context compilation from 2011, this is another exceptional collection of current drone/ambient/experimental artists from outside the label’s roster. Simon Scott of Slowdive (who actually appeared on a Ghostly release a few years ago, The Sight Below’s It All Falls Apart) starts the album out with a typically lovely drifter with gliding tones and a hint of hissing and distortion. Next is A Winged Victory For The Sullen (Stars Of The Lid’s Adam Wiltzie and composer Dustin O’Halloran), with a meditative orchestral piece with rippling piano and a soft bed of strings. Celer’s “Nothing So Mystical” starts quiet and vibrating but swells up into a rich, oceanic drone, like the best of the project’s work. Black Swan (who created the jaw-dropping album In 8 Movements a few years ago) brings us a really haunted piece called “Passings, Heartbreak”, with decayed voice-like sounds that sound more ghostly than anything the Ghostly label usually releases. Jim Haynes’ “This Is Radio Sweden” is typical of his style of rusted field-recording drone, with a cold blowing wind, close-miked clicking/scraping sounds, and a flat, steady beep. The piece gradually forms a layer of rusted-over distortion before ending. James Devane and Maxwell August Croy’s excellent project EN contributes “White”, which starts off with sparse koto and several gradual layers of droning instruments, continually getting brighter and more wonderous. Pjusk’s “Dorsk” is dark and chilly, with bass and beats that are quiet but low and enveloping, and very icy textures. Fieldhead’s “37th” is another clustered cloud of icy tones, which is guided by clear, upfront bass frequencies in the first part, but then turns to frosty, distorted, decaying string sounds for the second half. Sarah Lipstate’s Noveller project ends the disc with a brief and direct piece called “Bright Clouds Bloom”, with somewhat stripped down guitar and violin, and a tiny hiss of percussion, with a sound more reminiscent of ’90s slowcore than most Noveller stuff I’ve heard.

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