The Sight Below: Glider
Ghostly International

In a perfect world Wolfgang Voigt (aka Gas) would receive some share of whatever profits accrue from sales of Glider, the debut full-length from the unidentified Seattle-based figure known as The Sight Below. Yes, there are differences in production methodology—the latter generates his material in real time by running E-bowed, slide, and picked guitars through a series of loopers, 12-bit reverb boxes, and delay units, while Voight's cloudy Gas tracks result from the fusion of classically-based samples and muffled beats—but Glider in some moments could pass for previously unreleased Gas material as much as it does new tracks generated by a descendant. Said influence is hard to ignore, for example, when humming, reverb-drenched tones drape themselves across a quietly locomotive pulse of 4/4 bass drum and bright and off-beat cymbal patterns in the opening “At First Touch.”

Subtle differences do distinguish The Sight Below's music from Voigt's, however. While propulsion is common to both (vaguely schaffel-like at that), the guitar-centered character of Glider's tracks gives The Sight Below's music a modest degree of distinctive sonic identity. With its amorphous waves and gauzy beats, “Dour” seems Gas-like too—until, that is, plucked guitar notes appear on the horizon to lend the piece individuating character—while “A Fractured Smile” charges at a far more rapid BPM than any known Gas track. Glider perhaps succeeds most of all when it divests itself of the association and moves into purer “ambient” territory (strips away the beats, in other words, and ups the textural ante) as it does during the elegiac “Without Motion.” The billowing guitar chimes that echo and cascade through “Further Away” suggest a stronger affinity between The Sight Below and an artist such as Eluvium rather than Gas while the longest of the ambient tracks, “Nowhere,” presents The Sight Below's sound at its most epic when tones overlap, shimmer, and swell into grandiose, ever-ascending configurations for eight glorious minutes. In short, Glider is a satisfying enough installment in Ghostly's SMM series but it'll be even more interesting to hear whether the artist's sophomore release reveals a less derivative and instead more personalized style.

December 2008