In Miserum Stercus
Kyle Bobby Dunn
SCQ Rating: 78%
In light of his signature minimalist sound (something I attempted to describe earlier this year in SCQ's review of Bring Me the Head of…), it comes as little surprise that critical discourse tends to focus squarely on Kyle Bobby Dunn’s spaciousness. And while it’s true that at least two of the Canadian composer’s albums have breached the one hundred minute mark, Dunn has also been generous in unveiling records of less imposing run-times. The latest, In Miserum Stercus, runs a lean 35 minutes – which is all well and good – but best of luck assessing these soundscapes on the merits of size.
For one thing, In Miserum Stercus doesn’t feel 35 minutes long, bleeding out pure yet emotionally varied tones over a standstill that could easily be mistimed by twice as many minutes. So while yes it can score a reasonable morning commute with room to spare, its scope promises to go on and on. Dunn’s range, one endlessly rolling horizon, wasn’t always this smooth – 2011’s Ways Of Meaning presented textural shifts abrupt by comparison – but In Miserum Stercus proves a sterling companion to Dunn’s aforementioned 2012 double-album because both present yearning loops that could unspool into eons of real-time attachment.
At the risk of encouraging a ‘less is more’ attitude with regards to a catalog I personally enjoy sprawling and impenetrable, Dunn’s work irresistibly shines on an intimate, 35-minute platter. The nostalgic high watermark “Meadowfuck” and pensive slow-burner “Lake Wapta Rise” orient the record’s space economically or, in other words, allows the listener to navigate In Miserum Stercus’ flow at a quicker pace. And digestibility is an especially important attribute when the record in question collects some of Dunn’s most airy offerings to date. “Buncington Revisited”, in some ways classic Kyle Bobby Dunn, transforms unnoticed from mournful gloom into something entirely different and unsettling, while “The Milksop” wastes no time soaring on a wash of overlapping classical smears. Yet another worthy addition to a seriously underrated discography, In Miserum Stercus quixotically showcases Dunn at his most linear and esoteric.