Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bring Me the Head Of Kyle Bobby Dunn - Kyle Bobby Dunn

Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn

Kyle Bobby Dunn
Low Point Records.

SCQ Rating: 81%

Few catalogs in the ambient genre prove as bizarre and beguiling as Kyle Bobby Dunn’s. Intensely personal – enough so that Dunn’s name features into his album titles with the same proclivity as Weezer dedicating records to Crayola colours – and unerringly shapeless, it’s the traits that some might view as hindrances that give Dunn’s post-classical soundscapes their memorable hue. It helps that he’s also quite prolific. Since being introduced with A Young Person’s Guide To… in the winter of 2010, shortly after I moved to snowy Ottawa, my iTunes has grown to contain no less than five hours of subsequent Kyle Bobby Dunn material. And that’s not even all of it.

Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn finds the Brooklyn-based artist transitioning again, away from last spring’s concise Ways Of Meaning LP and into the long-form, double-record ambitions of yore. Which brings me to Dunn’s other noteworthy trademark – his uniformity. With so many releases spawned from a minimalist’s palette, it’s a testament to his blurred compositions that Bring Me the Head Of… maintains the fresh feel of what is ultimately another tribute to solitude. With instrumentation that sounds more comparable to streetlights at dusk, quiet sidewalks and hazy memories than guitar, strings or other tools designed to emanate sound, “The Hungover” and “La Chanson de Beurrage” lurch gracefully in circles that usher an emotional resonance to surface. Other tracks make their impact quicker: “An Evening With Dusty” presents a nostalgic drone-piece while “Diamond Cove (And Its Children Were Watching)” cuts directly to the gooey center of a climax without forsaking its atmosphere. Like all of Dunn’s releases, however, the best tracks unveil themselves slowly over multiple listens, and appeal on the grounds of personal sensitivities rather than any tangible, melodic qualities. It’s why “Douglas Glen Theme” floors me and I can’t properly explain why.

Over the past two years, Kyle Bobby Dunn has indeed become one of my favourite ambient artists, even when acknowledging that his releases don’t arouse a level of excitement that befits the occasion. Listening intently to these transient drones doesn’t have nearly the effect as trying to ignore them does, as if Dunn’s insisting that we absorb these tonal landscapes into our personal lives with the same casualness by which he seemingly accumulated them. As such, it’s impossible for me to hear Bring Me the Head Of… without reflecting on my impending move from Ottawa and all of the memories I can link to Dunn’s evocative output during my time here. Bearing the same faultless uniformity as before, Bring Me the Head Of… defies any ranking amidst Dunn’s discography. Instead, I can only promise that it’s as potent, inspiring and cryptic as the others.

Biodance - Crisopa


n5MD Records.

SCQ Rating: 80%

Naked women don’t figure into electronic music that often. Moreover sex doesn’t sell in this scene, probably because people willing to immerse themselves in a musical form that largely dispels hooks, repetition and vocals likely aren’t the demographic to objectify or be swayed by nude provocations. Not to say that Biodance’s cover-art seeks to challenge or offend anyone; it certainly doesn’t bother me. But it addresses a cornerstone of humanity – sexuality – that rarely gets a nod in comparison to most electronic muses (namely – childhood nostalgia, natural imagery and states of clairvoyance). Crisopa’s style fits far more comfortably into these well-trodden themes than as the sort of slick club beats you’d spin while envisioning naked women in your gin and tonic but like the cover-art, these songs navigate unique headspace.

Without breaking ground on any new territory, Crisopa has taken electronic music’s insular nature to the dance-floor. The evidence is all over “Ruled By Strange New Laws”, a familiar analog-fed drone-piece that rises into a frothy, dream-bound club-banger. That template follows suit after the starry piano refrain of “Gaviot”, the patient choral of “Es Todo Mental” and the latest house rhythms on “Biodance With Me”, with each boiling over into a rich euphoria. These lush beats aren’t intended to clash against whatever dubstep happens to be cresting at the moment; Crisopa’s dance-floor remains a personal one – your apartment’s kitchen with the lights out, your neighbourhood after dark, virtually anywhere that feels intimate. Because despite Biodance’s modus operandi, which gives Boards Of Canada’s mystic feel a linear push into the line-up outside the club, Crisopa’s work demonstrates vivid sensuality in soft focus. Whether listening to the BoC-indebted loneliness of “White Vacuum” or the seismic landscape of “Planets With Lava Oceans”, Biodance deserves to be heard in the dark - before, during or after you’ve been in proximity to someone you love. It’s that sort of listen; a headphone record you dance alone to.

Bird Eyes - Wind Up Radio Sessions

Bird Eyes

Wind Up Radio Sessions

SCQ Rating: 76%

The sophomore release by Montreal-based folksters Wind Up Radio Sessions displays an earnest songwriting unit thriving off their own disciplines. Without once forsaking their approach for anything resembling a radio bid, Bird Eyes makes an intricate yarn of lilting melodies and warm undertones. It’s a compact approach that deserves humble praise, for these are songs that take the edge off of tough days – like lullabies for twenty-somethings.

Mid-tempo jams like “Chesterfields” and the vaguely psychedelic “Legally Dead” air welcome bits of distortion into an otherwise acoustic set, while “Backporch” defies expectations with a lived-in synth cresting its chorus. These pockets of relaxed rock gel well with quiet ruminations that carry just as much bite. A wire-tough guitar line gives the reflective “Our Ways” some latent bluster whereas “Blades Of Grass” relies on powerful lyrics and sparse acoustics to transcend. With no less than three singers in rotation and enough smart studio nuances to flesh out their quiet ideas, Wind Up Radio Sessions have a cultish likeability not unlike The Shins; instead of forging new territory or making statements, they remind us what’s delicate and powerful in the comforts of the traditional. An understated but memorable folk-rock gem.