Wilt: As giants watch over us
Ad Noiseam

James Keeler's third Ad Noiseam release As giants watch over us appears two years after Radio 1940, Keeler's musical impressions of that bygone era. This latest foray into ambient sound design pursues darker paths as it represents, in Keeler's words, “a sonic declaration of political unrest, social engineering, and coming plagues.” Such dystopic themes are realized convincingly in this seventy-two minute travelogue of drones, electronic noise, field recordings, and samples. The prevailing mood is gothic, ominous, and atmospheric, with an aura of dread oozing forth from Keeler's congealing soundscapes. Whether one labels them industrial or experimental, the thirteen pieces include slowly unfolding collages of peaceful, droning ambience (“Blindfold,” “The mystery of iniquity”) and tracks that are considerably more nightmarish and abrasive (“Empire of the snake,” “Engineering eternity”). A prototypical piece is “The fiddler and the fool” which pairs a mournful orchestral sample iwith grinding noises, seething tones, and a throbbing bass pattern. In general, an encyclopedic array of sonic textures—thrums, blasts, scuttles, and clangs—evokes the blistered remains of some ruined cityscape. Whether it's the nightmarish, windswept howls that resonate in “Tapestry” or the faint industrial bell chimes of the ghostly “The disappearance of man,” there's no question that Keeler's eminently capable of conjuring disturbing dreamscapes. Admittedly, it's not a journey you'll want to make that often, but, when the despairing mood strikes, there's no better soundtrack.

June 2004