Solo Guitar Improvisations II
Widesky: Floating in Being
Rural Colours' three-inch releases always reward worth one's attention, and two recent chapters in the series are no different in that regard. If the title of Widesky's Floating in Being has transcendental overtones, so too does the music itself, which is steeped in electro-acoustic reverie (the title, incidentally, comes from a text written by phenomenologist-philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty: “the body is lost outside of the world and its goals, fascinated by the unique occupation of floating in Being with another life, of making itself the outside of its inside and the inside of its outside . . . movement, touch, vision, applying themselves to the other and to themselves, return toward their source and, in the patient and silent labor of desire, begin the paradox of expression”). Taking inspiration from the sprawling vistas of his New Mexico home base, Seth Chrisman used field recordings, found sounds, and various software and DSP trickery to produce the four meditative Widesky settings that undulate and meander relaxedly on Floating in Being. The outdoorsy character of the material is captured in the field recorded sounds of children playing, campfire crackle, and burbling water. In essence, the EP's focus is on meditative electro-acoustic ambient-dronescaping, with acoustic guitar picking, electric guitar washes, hazy electronics, and field recordings at the forefront of tracks such as “A Torpid Memoir” and “Cascade Like Tesserae.”
Ben Chatwin's contribution to the Rural Colours series is a seventeen-minute solo guitar improvisation that distills many of the strengths of his Talvihorros style into a single, long-form setting. During the piece's opening minutes, Chatwin peppers plaintive guitar figures with waves of distorted voice effects, bass rumbles, and percussive flourishes. As the material develops, the sound mass grows ever more combustible and the electric guitar fiery. There's no sense of urgency in terms of tempo as the track unfolds at a meditative crawl, but there's definitely dramatic portent in the crushing swell of volume and density that the elements work towards. Having escalated to the level of controlled howl by the ten-minute mark, the mass grows ever more molten as it's pierced by the stabbing shudder and wail of the electric guitar until an eventual dénouement sets in. Though he pushes the EP's material into an uncompromisingly raw and at times violent zone, it never becomes unlistenable or loses its fundamental coherence as an overall composition. Here as in his other recordings, Chatwin strikes an admirable balance between accessibility and experimentalism in such a way that other guitar-based sound sculptors would do well to follow his example.