Review Summary: Lost in a tape dream.
Adam Thomas likes recording what he listens to. People like listening to what others record. People, meet Adam Thomas. Adam - People. This is going to be the start of a great relationship.
Adam Thomas releases records under the name Preslav Literary School, a reference to the first literary school in the medieval Bulgarian Empire. This literary school was the main center for Byzantine translation in the late 800s, a notion transferable to Thomas’ own work. On Beautiful Was The Time, Thomas takes cassette tapes he has recorded and mashes the sounds found on them together, including some of the noise resultant from said mashing. Birds chirp over silverware clattering, voices speak in hushed tones while tape hiss drones, and Preslav Literary School’s personal brand of translation begins to take shape.
Sound and noise fade in and out as though a new and beautiful dream was taking place every few minutes, no one thought being ruminated upon for too long. Not unlike William Basinski with his Disintegration Loops, Preslav Literary School focuses on creating something new and personal out of found sounds and dull, everyday happenings. A dream about eating dinner with friends is slowly overtaken by hiss and haze, eventually giving way to thoughts of listening to an orchestra as a family member hums along in the background. These occurrences are anything but extraordinary. However, when Thomas applies his dreamlike mixing and matching of sounds and noises to the scenes, they become something more, something altogether more fascinating and striking.
Thomas’ goal appears to be to tell the stories of his own interactions with the tapes he has recorded, how they shaped him and defined certain specific moments in his life, and how they can do the same for the listener. A sense of wonder and amazement is conveyed through the sounds, and a sense of otherworldly significance is given to the simplest of actions. Thomas succeeds in making something fragile and exquisite out of tedium and monotony, and that is where the art of Beautiful Was The Time lies. All sound is music, as John Cage once pointed out, though it is not so apparent when the sound is bare and alone. A car horn may just be a car horn when it is heard on a city street, but in the hands of an artist like Thomas, that car horn can be combined with other common sounds to create music in its most thought-provoking and emotional state. This time truly is beautiful.