“Shut your eyes and you’ll burst into flames.” This warning was first made famous by the Log Lady in Twin Peaks, and later became the name of an alt-rock group; now it’s the title of a new 13-minute drone piece from the prolific René Margraff (Pillowdiver). The Twin Peaks reference should come as no surprise, as the opening track of Margraff’s Frozen Soundtracks bears the same title; this piece would have fit well on that release, and is easily as good as that album’s best track, “Hausu”. The reason: the drone is allowed the space to grow on both the horizontal and vertical dimensions (length and volume), and as such it never seems leashed.
The spoken word sample introduces the track, then returns midway through the piece as a brief loop. The bulk of the selection is comprised of slowed guitar samples. And yet, due to the rising tension of the piece, the pace seems more propulsive than glacial. By the time the peaks arrive, the listener has been treated to wave upon wave of glowing harmonic overtones. One can sense the flames approaching even as one struggles not to blink.
The solo nature of flames allows it to be better appreciated than some of Pillowdiver’s full-length works, in that the listener does not need to stop and re-calibrate at the beginning of the next track. The single flower draws more appreciation than the bunch. It’s a great way to experience one of the artist’s finest compositions to date, as long as one can hold the flames at bay. (Richard Allen)