Infinite Greyscale Books has just become Infinite Greyscale Books & Records, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. After a series of limited hand-made books over the past two years, the company has launched its music line with two beautiful single-sided 10″ records. The screen-printed b-sides (by Ulrich Schmidt-Novak) and spray paint/collage art (by Paul McDevitt and Cornelius Quabeck) make these vinyl releases true collectors’ items.
At least one other reviewer has written that these releases would be worth buying even without the music. Fortunately the music is up to the task. Whether fans come for the art and stay for the music or vice versa, we’re confident that they will get their money’s worth. Each of the recordings is a single eight-minute track, benefitting from the breadth of the wider grooves. They play quite well together, leading one to suspect an “Infinite Greyscale sound”, in this case a hybrid of modern composition and drone.
Neither artist is new; Gabriel Saloman comes from Yellow Swan, while Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is a member of Tarantel and The Alps. Their solo work continues threads woven by their bands, but is different enough to be distinctive. Saloman’s Riots Don’t Just Happen is as cinematic as the work of Yellow Swans, but the abrasive edges have been sloughed off. Some may conclude that this is natural for a work composed for a dance piece, but it is also indicative of Saloman’s direction since leaving the band. The military drums that launch and close the track echo those found on 2011’s Adhere. A brave touch is to introduce these drums for a second only before taking them away. One knows that they will return, but not when. This allows time for the drones to build and overlap, creating an anticipatory tension. When the elements unite at 3:39, their accumulated power threatens to overwhelm the grooves, but the needle never jumps out; the diamond tip is mesmerized.
The familiar post-rock tinges of Tarantel and psychedelic leanings of The Alps are all but absent from “Requiem”, as Cantu-Ledesma leans more in the direction of artists on his own Root Strata label (which – surprise! – released a Yellow Swans record in 2005). The full track title, “Requiem (for Violin & Magnetic Tape)” explains the contents, but not the way in which they are arranged: looped, layered, set against each other like opposing tears. The piece gains intensity as it progresses, rising and ultimately descending without giving any ground. Like its accompanying cover, it’s a twinned skeleton, strong enough to stand despite its apparent weight.
Infinite Greyscale is off to a great start with these two releases, and we expect a very positive reception; enough, we hope, for this pair of records to become the start of an ongoing series. (Richard Allen)