Peter Wright: Red Lion
Digitalis Industries

On Red Lion, Wright deploys a 12-string Danelectro to sculpt hazy, hypnotic drones of slowly measured unfurl and suspended grace. The album's longest piece, the 12-minute “Approaching Low from the West,” appears to do exactly that: seemingly stretched across a great divide, ghostly guitars shudder tremulously, incrementally and almost imperceptibly swelling in volume and density before settling into an industrial cluster of slightly dissonant tones. A gentler ambiance pervades “Park Bench with Fenner Brockway” with the guitar exuding a crystalline quality that gives it a rather dulcimer-like effect. Wright exhibits a masterful sensitivity in his handling of field recordings, using them to effect bridges between instrumental passages and adding atmospheric density to the guitar pieces, at times unsettlingly so (ringing bells and churning noises suggestive of planes recorded at Red Lion Square, for example), and at others bucolically (chirping birds in “Cows”)—not that that's such a surprise, given that Wright, born in New Zealand and currently a London, England resident, has been amassing a substantial discography since 1998. His handling of flow also impresses, as Wright effects organic transitions from one piece to the next, a trajectory that culminates beautifully when “Infection” closes with the poignant sound of an elderly woman's fragile voice. Words like 'atonal' and 'avant-garde' come to mind when contemplating Wright's sound but such terms are misleading when his music remains so accessible despite its experimental character. Judging by Red Lion, the more accurate description might be 'mesmerizing sound sculptor.'

September 2006