Public Speaking ~ Line & Weight: Ambient Recordings

public speakingThere is an intense tranquility to Line & Weight that makes me remember all those great moments in post-rock where ‘the quiet’ commonly referred to was not before or after a storm, but that which held all things together within it as a chaotic whole: a wind and wave whose passion resides in the paradoxical timelessness of movement. Like the speed of planets and galaxies which barely registers in our short lives, its stillness is brimming with kinetics, whirling and expanding with such force it is, even if for an instant, impossible to conceive of something beyond its grasp, of something that is not both fully paralyzing and otherwise. Public Speaking performs this stormy creativity as a highly improvised process, truly an ‘ambient recording’ that provides its listener with an environment in which to be set adrift, an interpretation of space that calls attention to the possible harmony of everything.

If the title of the album refers to drawing, then the ambience is perhaps the flow with which all sorts of sounds coincide, both as the ‘natural’ aural quality of field recordings and the more decidedly constructed work of most ambient music. Sometimes, the line being drawn thickens with harmonics, allowing seemingly discordant sounds to meld together into peaceful chaos, developing new relations of scale that, if seen from afar, would appear to happen quickly, even suddenly, a surge that from up close looks like a repetitive signal of eternity. At other times, the line narrows down, permitting a clear view of the elements involved, a melodic approach that wouldn’t be too out of place in a GY!BE album, maybe even a Rachel’s one. It is in this ‘restricted field of view’ where the music crafts its dialogue with things, with radio clips and tape loops and other objects played together in such a way as to inspire an emotional trance, plunging the listener into the process of feeling this space, this great acceleration, as the droning dissipation of clarity, of the intellectualized certainty of knowing that there are two colors on the album cover, not just one. As in the storm, the colors and all things blur, as in the line, a dot is moving in such a way as to make its beginning indistinguishable from its end.

The album consists, in a first instance, of two tracks, with another seven hiding in their wake. The first two are very melodic, the establishment of a certain panorama that will, slowly and quickly, change as much as seemingly remain static. It builds up on sounds, accumulating momentum, turning quieter and less melodic as it develops into different weights of line, apparently losing some of its elements while actually carrying them around in a long, long tail of harmony. By the middle the droning aspect becomes heightened, as if it was the point at which the waves will burst out of control, the point where the line is so narrow it is almost gone, almost noisy; it turns around, retracing its path and encountering its melodic first steps as a beautifully fragmented new collectivity of sounds. In this way, the album simultaneously grows and fades towards its ending as an undefined, open melody that is both identical and completely opposite to its clear-headed, strong start, finally operating in the understanding that in the album cover there is only one color to be felt.

Line & Weight is, in the end, a very interesting ambient record, one which does away with the presuppositions of what ambient in general can do, entering the field along with other experimentalists in order to give the seemingly slow shifts in genres the acceleration it needs to keep up with the lives it intends to embrace and situate. In other words, it’s a good time to be into all these kinds of music, and hopefully it will remain this way for a very long while. (David Murrieta)

Available here.

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