We last encountered Lawrence English on the immersive Wilderness of Mirrors, released earlier this year; we last encountered Stephen Vitiello at the New York exhibition “In the Garden of Sonic Delights”. On Fable, the artists join forces for the second time, following 2011’s Acute Inbetweens (Crónica). Each album shares a three year gestation period and a general timbre that mixes acoustic and electronic instrumentation with field recordings. But while the first album was incredibly subdued, with floating passages and a sense of suspension, the second is as immediate and tactile as the cover art implies.
The gnarled wood seems to indicate fall, although it’s springtime in Australia. One can imagine how these pieces of driftwood might feel beneath the fingers. In like fashion, one can imagine the passage of time while listening to the chimes, bells and clocklike atmospheres of these seven tracks. This has been a good year for time-related recordings (including MUFI.RE’s Mechanics of Suspended Time, Lech Nienartowicz & Michel Wolski’s split cassette, and Kineskop’s Kontékst). A season is always changing somewhere, which keeps these recordings timely (pun intended). The chimes of twinned tracks “A Chime for the Fable” and “A Fable for the Chime” make the biggest impact, but the foggy drone of “That Caress, Inverted” is like the surf rolling in, or the clouds, or the cold. If we’ve made our preparations, we have little to fear; if not, the sounds are a reminder to learn from the squirrel, gathering nuts before the leaves have fallen. The stark nature of the closing track implies that the transition is imminent. The activity of the opening track – children, rivers, migrating birds – has ended. Instruments fall like leaves; an inanimate object knocks against wood; crickets chirp their final goodbyes. The volume fades like color in the cold. The fable is now complete. (Richard Allen)