Jannick Schou: Against A Backdrop Of Blue Hills, They Were As Beautiful As A Lullaby
Dead Pilot Records

Issued in a limited edition of 300 copies in a letter-pressed Arigato package (the first 100 copies come with a bonus disc of remixes), Against A Backdrop Of Blue Hills, They Were As Beautiful As A Lullaby was created by Schou from hours of tape loops collected over several years. One naturally thinks of William Basinski at the very mention of tape loops, but Schou has a sound all his own, in this case, epic ambient cloudscaping of the first rank. Buried deep within the blinding vaporous outpouring that is “Blue Hills” lies the monotone buzz of a tape machine, a sound that persists throughout the track's eleven-minute run and one that lends the recording a lo-fi ambiance; it also suggests decay and consequently lessens the distance separating Basiniski and Schou.

Schou deliberately pulls the material out of focus, preferring to smudge its edges and present it as grainy masses of gauzy blur, and as a result the identification of certain elements can be challenging. A clattering motif, for example, can be heard within the thick tones of “Drifting into Daydreams,” but whether it's a crackling fireplace or the clatter of a train can't be determined, so obscured is it by the overlaid material. The material is often ethereal in the extreme, as when entire cities of ghosts seem to rise up during “Untitled II (for Tape)” and “Untitled V (for Tape)” and when everyone's favourite Königsberg-based philosopher gets taken for a blurry ride in a fast machine during “Kant”; at the same time, it's also at times earthy and raw in character, one example being the rippling and crackling industrial drone that is “Departure,” and an occasional real-world element lends the work a naturalistic quality, such as when bird chirps appear amidst shuddering masses in “A Wave in my Backyard.” Schou's recording will obviously appeal most to those with an appetite for epic dronescaping of the ethereal and vaporous kind.

June 2011