Colorado’s Darren Harper was last featured here on Home, a collaboration with Jared Smyth on Flaming Pines. Listening again to that evocative release, one can now theorize which parts might have been Harper’s and which parts might have belonged to Smyth. For example, on “A quiet, crisp snow”, Harper may have been responsible for the quiet and Smyth the crisp.
Passages for the Listless and Tired, on the brand new Moscow based Dronarivm, is one of the smoothest releases we’ve ever heard. Each track launches gently and comes to a cushioned end. In their midsections, the tracks undulate like waving wheat. The effect is one of controlled calm. It’s not easy to produce such music; one needs to avoid jagged edges on the one hand and tedium on the other, but Harper sidesteps both extremes. As the album develops, the sines and layers grow slightly more intense, to the extent that the “Fourth Passage” borders on the dark ambient, midway between the friendly and the frightening. This twinge in timbre is a necessary evil, as it prevents the project from becoming simply a series of comforting waves.
The title can be read in different ways. While the album seems like a gift, its overall intentions are purposely vague. Are these passages meant to comfort the listless and tired, to accompany them in their current state or to change their state to something else: less listless, less tired? The listener’s reaction will depend on the state of mind at the time of play. If these passages can help the tired to sleep (tested and proven!) or allow the listless to daydream (yet to be tested), then they will have achieved their purpose. Either way, there’s more than meets the ear. These ambient drones are meant to interact with the listener and to nudge them – ever so gently – into a less depressive state. The last minute rises into the red, a wake-up call both literal and figurative. (Richard Allen)