On his previous full-length effort, New Zealand sound sculptor Rosy Parlane
used cycling guitar and organ patterns to erect mountainous
drones and dense layerings. Spurred on by mite-like rustlings and
frozen blocks of digital ice, they loomed off into a vertiginous, chromatic
climb. John Wozencraft's immaculate blue-filtered photographs of snow-encrusted landscapes and silent stone buildings seemed to echo the album's mystique, and here on Parlane's second CD, his images once again prove telling.
The album's artwork features leafy foliage dangling over a murky
pool, which reflects the dense pall of green. The album works in
much the same manner, as subtle guitar dynamics stretch into tightly
manipulated, gently expanding and contracting textures. In turn, a
cluster of high-frequency tones and the soft thrum of an organ quickly mirror their
movements, creating a fine sense of space and letting the sound grow wider and deeper.
This almost minimalist discipline continues on the second track, as
composed, chiming harmonics and swooping feedback tones are gradually
fragmented by the scuttle and trickle of field recordings. The crisp
digital repetitions and sustained tones then begin to drift towards
despondency a steely-edged, roaring patch of noise suddenly attacks the
errant drone before receding into the night.
Here, Parlane demonstrates restraint and delicacy of feeling. Although heavily manipulated, pieces proceed naturally, with each discrete element quickly responding and often building upon the subtle movements of the others, which themselves disappear and reemerge at key moments. There's a fine
coordination on display in pieces both constant and disjunctive, diffuse and coherent.
At 19 minutes, the third and final track again builds up blocks of
sound, then rearranges them to suit the mole-like burrowings and slashing shards of digital clicks and hiccups. The
opening moments are serene, but the sounds of nature slowly encroach, joined by various string-scraping sounds, pointillist guitar
and hoarse feedback, turning the entire sound field into a mucky
pulp. It's the most blistering, overblown piece Parlane has put together so
far, and a fine highlight to his deceptively knotty sound.
Jessamine draws from Parlane's ongoing
tendency to contrast arching drones with slivers of digital noise which, in one way or another, often mimic animals or events normally seen in nature. But it also shows a new complexity, capturing his sound from new angles, bringing in
jarring elements to create a tense balance.