The Pale Catalog
It's telling that none of the track titles on The Pale Catalog directly references any of the fifteen on The Grey Catalog, K. Leimer's previous release, even if the album titles obviously coincide. Perhaps it's Leimer's and contributing deconstructivist Bill Seaman's way of saying that though the ten settings on the new collection were derived from the sources and sessions associated with The Grey Catalog, they're standalone inventions that should be regarded as such. Using Ableton Live to reshape Leimer's original files, Seaman, currently a professor in Art and Visual Studies at Duke University and a familiar name in media art circles, hews closely to the nuanced style of Leimer's own productions instead of crafting material of wholly unrelated character.
Put simply, Seaman generally eschews dissonant noise-making in favour of understated ambient flow on the hour-long recording. A typical setting maintains a steady and even keel throughout its run, with melodic fragments and assorted other punctuations keeping the activity level up throughout. Consequently, the material, while it does unfold smoothly, provides enough stimulation to hold one's attention, resulting in an album that unfolds with the kind of subtlety and grace one associates with a 12k release as much as one from Palace of Lights.
A serene glow quietly radiates off of the shimmering surfaces of “Cassation” and “Sainte-Colombe,” whereas organ-tinged murmurings of crystalline flutter rise and fall throughout “Injury” for ten-and-a-half minutes. “Feint” catches one's ear for being an appealing detour into Javanese gamelan territory. An occasional instrument does occupy centre stage, such as the piercing electric guitar texture (or at least what sounds like an electric guitar) that briefly flares up during “Districts” or the double bass accents that pepper the nocturnal stream of “Inutile,” but Seaman appears more focused on creating artful, fully integrated wholes on this project than drawing attention to constituent sounds.Though the front cover credits Leimer only, The Pale Catalog is more accurately a collaborative product; in fact, it's really Seaman who's in the driver's seat for this particular ride. As a final note, The Pale Catalog isn't the last we've heard from these two, given that it evolved as a side-exercise during the recording of Deformation, a separate Leimer / Seaman collaboration currently being mastered.