Seth Chrisman (Widesky) has been quite busy this year. Within That Aura nips at the heels of Phase Portrait (Hibernate Postcard Series) and Aetherdrift, Do You Copy (Flaming Pines). He’s also launched his own label, Holyoak! Resounding, with c. yantis’ cassette box elder, cold scholar. (The latter two were reviewed here). With even more releases in the pipe, it’s safe to say that inspiration has struck all around.
Widesky is an appropriate name for Chrisman’s recordings under this guise. One hears exactly what one expects to hear: expansive ambient drones with slowly undulating curves. But when Chrisman fills the wide sky with other sounds, his music turns a corner. This happens early on Within That Aura, with the chimelike tones of opener “The Curve That Warms” shimmering like dragonflies in flight. Then there’s a seven minute wait for the next active sound, the static transmission that closes the following track. Fortunately, this leads to the album’s best piece, the solid opening-to-closing drone of “Sixteen Megakelvin”. This classic filtered mulch has figured strongly in each of Futuresequence’s releases this year, and may become the label’s signature sound.
The press release states that the album is sculpted from processed instruments such as ukulele, mandolin, chord organ and piano. And processed they are, to the point that they are difficult to distinguish. It’s odd to know the instruments and not to be able to find them. While the piano seems to play prominently in “The Curve That Warms” and the chord organ in “____ Is Also Movement”, this may be a trick of the ear. But within that aura, all things seem possible. A single, clear acoustic instrument set against this background could have a powerful effect – something to keep in mind for future recordings. It seems strange to say that Widesky can learn from Chrisman and Chrisman from Widesky, since they’re the same person, but we’d be very interested in hearing what would happen if the two aspects were reconciled. (Richard Allen)