Monday, January 17, 2011
Rural Route No. 1 - Damian Valles (Rural Route Series)
Rural Route No. 1
Standard Form Records.
SCQ Rating: 79%
For a collection borne on the promise of experimental electronics, it's surprising that Rural Routes’ first installment by Canadian composer Damian Valles breaks the whirling ambience with the traditional edge of a patiently picked guitar. Rest easy, though: little about Valles' style can be deemed traditional. From two notes alternating over some background noise arises an interwoven web of serene yet desperate guitar figures, filling in silent cracks and finishing each other’s thoughts. What instinctively sounds like an instrumental mantra from Six Organs of Admittance continues to spawn unassuming flourishes, each anchoring the track’s airy sentiments to encroaching danger without complicating its linear structure. The track’s called ‘Low Population Density’ and its thirteen-minute progression, covering everything from ambience and noise to post-rock and soundscapes, introduces Standard Form’s Rural Route series as a modest tour de force.
The limited CD-R’s subsequent two tracks only register half the time of ‘Low Population Density’ combined but Valles uses their conciseness to embellish upon the woodsy isolation hinted upon over the course of that opening epic. The hostility behind ‘Swale’’s reverb-tinged twang evokes a do-or-die menace deserving of the Wild West, its steps fortified by lone drum-strikes all blunted and caked in mud. Somewhat alleviating the hardships of this country life, ‘Minor Variance’ floats rather than marches, its guitar timbre padded by the swelling of steady, almost plodding rhythms that seem determined to move on instead of fated to fall. For anyone who’s yet to peer into Damian Valles’ rustic universe, Rural Route No. 1 is a fine escape to that borderless country.