Which is better: 33 one-minute tracks or one 33-minute track? It’s a question that will never be asked in an AT & T commercial, but is relevant here. Grant Meachem, also known as rabbitsquirrel, has completed the hat trick of three recordings in three months. His premiere release, in is in as in in, is an industrial-flecked, beat-oriented EP that presents a sound far different from that of its successors. With the second and third, he hits his stride, and the two releases deserve to be heard as one.
by a thousand pricks and tiny lacerations follows in the footsteps of compilations Minute Papillon (60 tracks) and Signalvoid (263 tracks), the difference being that these tracks are all the work of a single artist. Each has its own title and demonstrates rabbitsquirrel’s love for post-rock. (Post-rock artists, feel free to emulate.) It’s easy to allow these drone tracks to wash over one’s consciousness like threatening clouds. Many of the threads could be connected easily to make longer tracks, including the opening set of three, which allows the set to flow as a whole. One can imagine these sounds overlapping: the rain sheets of the opener with the rumbles of its successor and the lurking danger of the third. But then some pieces begin to stand out: the steam pulse of “The Closing of Our Ladybird Nursery” (4), the darkly etched hauntings of “For Love and Loss of a Landing Gear” (9) and “The view from a balcony” (21), the spaceship whooshes of “Our field testing was a success” (10) and “In reference to navigation” (18), the red zone heights of “I felt your callosity” (11), “Autopilot, autopilot, where is my nebula?” (19) and “We Are What’s Left” (23). It’s fun to re-sequence the tracks, to go from soft to loud and to imagine one long piece. But then rabbitsquirrel gives us exactly that.
Nectar from a Stone contains only one track in two versions, titled “I placed stones in his belly and crystals in his eyes before drinking the nectar”, reminiscent of a certain title from Earth. The 33-minute original is followed by a remix (“The sweetness of his nectar”). As the shorter tracks has sunken deep into the consciousness, one can trace their tendrils in the longer piece. The quieter rabbitsquirrel works find echoes in the early minutes, which allow greater room for expansion. Dynamic contrast is a key factor, most evident in the retreat to near-silence in the fifth minute; it’s easier to retreat and advance than it is to stop and start again. As the eighth minute approaches, a patient drone begins to filter through the haze. From this point on, the forest grows thicker. The drone becomes a wind, then a tempest. Halfway through, chords and reverberations make a final stand, losing out only in the end as the storm demolishes everything in its path.
Which is better? If you clicked on the commercial above, you have my answer. The beauty of the equation is that rabbitsquirrel has given us the right to choose. (Richard Allen)