By: Owen Coggins
Aidan Baker | Website | Facebook | Bandcamp |
Tomas Järmyr | Facebook | Soundcloud
Released on September 23, 2016 via Consouling Sounds
Werl is a multifaceted drone ambient collaboration, which covers a lot of ground in its 95-minute running time. The album cover looks to me like an image of a tiny cogwheel blown up to mythical proportions, and that’s not a bad metaphor for the sounds contained… you can hear the small fret movements, odd details of movement against strings plus electricity, and there’s more than enough time for these moments to expand into wide pools of ambience.
The first track is a good example, with little movements repeated until they become a backdrop of haphazardly patterned gestures. The fuzz tone gradually increasing over the 12 minutes, the effect of which feels like a sonic version of dripping ink into water- at first stark curls of dense colour, they gradually swim out into shading the whole environment, eventually working up quite an industrial hiss and rumble. The next track moves onto creating a tense slashing and alien whirring out of this set of sounds, and the following one adds a weirdly halting, bony and angular method of propulsion, like a cart on four differently-shaped triangular wheels which nevertheless keeps on moving.
The end of this track retreats to a respite of near-silence, though, and ‘Werl IV’ is a beautiful, slow-breathing drone piece, like a city exhaling at dusk. This and the next one and a half pieces are great low-key ambience, with drums and really nicely clanging, distant cymbal bashes or shimmers complementing the drones without drawing you out of them. ‘IV’ is super chilled out at first, building to an almost triumphant yet poignant searing flow, while ‘V’ has a more austere approach to a rounded low tone. ‘VI’ again builds up with the crashabout percussion to a blasting fuzz sprawl by the end.
The final two tracks finish the album off with more adamant rhythm, on ‘VII’ a stabbing feedback siren pulses, with the drums filling out the rhythm with jerks and smashes, before another bass line comes in to coil itself in and around the flashing red bulb alarm call of the first guitar. ‘VIII’ has more of everything, almost as if crowded with all of the noisy strategies of each previous track. The screech of the guitar builds and builds until the picture is almost completely lost in static, then it all suddenly vanishes with an intake of breath, disappearing into a point of light that lingers for a microsecond in the middle of the old TV set before it’s gone.
Overall, the album can feel a bit indigestible because of its length (and I’m not one to complain about vast extensions of droning), but there’s certainly ample space for the musicians to engage fully with the different styles, ideas and feels that are born from their interplay with ambient guitar and roving, experimenting percussion.