Bartosz Dziadosz (Pleq) is fast on his way to becoming the Lil Wayne of drone. Over the past few years, he’s collaborated with artists including Anna Rose Carter, Hiroki Sasajima, Spheruleus, Lauki, Segue and Strië, while continuing to release his own productions. His willingness to blend his own sound with that of others demonstrates a rare humility and may be responsible for his success in attracting new collaborators. His latest teammate is Philippe Lamy, a French painter and musician last heard on Dronarivum’s Slowfast, a quiet suite loosely based on a walk into the desert.
Momentum isn’t nearly as sparse as Lamy’s album – after all, it’s called Momentum – but neither is it dense or fast-paced. Instead, the recording is meditative and textural, midway between the minimalism of Darius Ciuta and the maximalism of Zbeen. One feels these points of sound in the same way as one regards the stars on a crisp night: interjections in the darkness, twinkling yet distant. Dziadosz works with Lamy’s instincts without overwhelming them, as if laying an electronic blanket across a cotton sheet. The recording is warmer as a result.
While the album is filled with moods and impressions, it lacks surges. A better title might have been consistency. This is music to drape one’s self in, rather than music to move to. Field recordings are blended into the mix like spices in a souffle. On a few very brief occasions (for example, the four minute mark of “Dropping Waves”, the volume rises for a bit before sinking back into the gurgling morass; but for the most part, Momentum remains even-tempered. Sound is more important than music, timbre more than melody.
A trio of mixes proves to be an interesting experiment, as the guest artists head off in different directions. mise_en_scene makes “Behind the Black Horizon” quieter, a trick one would not have thought possible; in so doing, the tones behind the notes take center stage. Machinefabriek adds thickness to “Beyond the Black Horizon”, making it seem less black; and Yukitomo Hamasaki adjusts the pressure of “Absurd”, letting the air out of the tires until it becomes a ghost of the original. It’s too bad that remixes of the two 14-minute tracks are not included, as each could have used some editing. But at 73 minutes, the album could not have borne much more weight.
Momentum may be the wrong title for an album that slows as it progresses, but it’s certainly a good word to describe Pleq’s trajectory; he’s picking up steam, and in 2013 we look forward to hearing his next choice of collaborator. Meanwhile, Lamy’s musical career seems to be rivaling his painting career, and the one-two punch of Slowfast and Momentum should put him on the musical map. (Richard Allen)