Descent Into Delta
Add Descent Into Delta to Ben Chatwin's ongoing run of spectacular Talvihorros releases. This five-part recording for the esteemed Hibernate label contributes to a growing body of soundscape-related work from the London-based guitarist that's distinguished by its high quality and gradual development; the project clearly has come a long way in a short time, as Talvihorros only came into being in 2008.
Much like the five stages of sleep, the album's immersive material pulls the listener ever deeper into an unconscious state; the five tracks on Descent Into Delta also lend themselves so naturally to the vinyl album format, what with the first three pieces forming an aggressive opening side and the final two a more meditative second, one guesses that perhaps Chatwin conceived of Descent Into Delta in such terms from the outset (for the record, Hibernate has made it available in editions of 250 copies for both LP and CD formats). As it turns out, it was during the mixing process that the conceptual side of the recording came into sharp focus, with Chatwin growing ever more mindful of the associations between states of altertness (Gamma waves) and deep sleep (Delta waves) and subsequently sequencing the five pieces so that a sonic simulation of the transition through the various states might be realized.
After “Gamma” emerges gradually from silence to gain strength with gentle swells of shimmering chords and tremolo effects, “Beta” appears, initially inducing a state of restfulness before expanding into a raw and slow-burning meditation of rippling guitar fire. A deflation sets in, however, and the material, now plodding in slow-motion and sounding ever more plaintive, effects a seamless segue into “Alpha,” where nightmarish disturbances surface in the form of disfigured scabs and smears. It's during this part that the full scope of Chatwin's guitar atmospherics comes into play, with high-pitched string and dulcimer-like sounds filling in the background behind the molten simmer of his guitar playing.
The long-form “Theta” is more supplication than meditation, with cymbal flourishes adding to the dramatic peals and washes Chatwin generates from his guitar and effects, a mood that carries over into the final section, “Delta,” wherein viola player Anais Lalange appears to add her distinctive textures to the track's otherwise cosmic ruminations. If Descent Into Delta exudes a markedly live and spontaneous feel, that's due in part to the fact that it grew out of a series of live improvisations that were then selected and edited. Certainly Chatwin's music has an in-the-moment feel that lends it an organic character, and though the material isn't improvisation in the purest sense, it nevertheless feels like a living, breathing organism that's being brought to life in the moment.