25.1.12

Quiet Worlds Speak Volumes

It's great to get some more material from the welsh label Quiet World, who've for five years now humbly released various works of "gentle psychedelia" – which I must say, despite its vagueness, is quite an apt descriptor. Easily, these are the label's most pleasant looking releases I've seen to date, sporting hand-signed business cards and pro-printed inserts.

Ian Holloway - These Clockwork Tides
(qw twenty)

Ian Holloway hasn't shied in using his own label, Quiet World, as the primary hub for his creative output. The first of Holloway's releases I'd heard was 2007's A Lonely Place, which was a rather fine post-90s isolationist drone work with lovely sections of acoustic guitar peppered throughout. While it's been rather difficult to keep up with everything he's released since then, much of what has graced my ears has proven to be nearly as exceptional.

Another reason that I've come to respect Holloway's work, is that with every release his focus seems to shift slightly to accommodate a new concept, or set of concepts, without sacrificing whatever it is that makes all of his work sound so distinctly his own. These Clockwork Tides achieves exactly that. It's a work meant to capture the essence of the land and sea of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales via acoustic instrumentation and processing, as opposed to relying solely on environmental documentation. Holloway paints his sonic vision of the peninsula through works of time-stretched tone-floatation, some cycling in simple patterns before dying out, while others accruing layer upon layer of noise until all is bleak. The former works better than the latter, which is especially evident in the near 30 minute closer, "Firelight", that drew me in at first but lost my attention by the halfway point.

Though I believe Holloway's endeavor of recreating experiences and perceptions of an area through the use of acoustic instrumentation to be a noble one, I think he would have potentially found it more rewarding to work exclusively with unprocessed field recordings, as opposed to dipping into his familiar bag of tricks. I believe it to be more challenging to represent an area through exclusive audio documentation of that area, than it is to use instruments and processing to encapsulate memories of one's experience from that area. The latter leaves one susceptible to saturating a work with unintended romanticism and overly cinematic qualities – largely due to one's perception of these unfolding thoughts of a place as a sort of movie of the mind, and thus, the desire to create a deserving score for it. Field recordings, on the other hand (when they are left unprocessed) don't allow for all the potential fluff that's unneeded anyway, and leave one with only pure sonic representation. With that said, in Holloway's rendering of the Gower Peninsula, he manages to paint what sounds like an honest picture, steering clear of many of the traps despite his chosen course of action. All things considered, quite well done.


Sujo - Eilat
(qw nineteen)

Sujo is Ryan Huber, whose releases on Inam Records continually found their way to Ian Holloway and his Wonderful Wooden Reasons zine for review. Holloway, clearly taken by what he'd heard, extended an invitation to Huber for a release on Quiet World. Those familiar with the label's catalog will undoubtedly be taken aback at the album's sheer volume alone. Once the initial shock wears off it's not hard to see what Holloway was impressed by.

It's fair to call this a post-rock album, though definitely on the more metal/shoegaze side of things, not far removed from the work of Nadja. What's refreshing about Eilat is that even at its heaviest, it's far more insidious than it is just an assault on the senses: crushing drums, hammering guitar, and atrophied noise all come together with purpose. Also, the clinical feel of the drones, and the overall focus away from melody, gravitates this more towards the fringes than your average doom record. A surprising release, and one that'll likely get me hunting down more work by Huber. Highly recommended.

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