Review Summary: An impressive collaboration from two of Denovali’s leading artists and a strong contender for best split release of the year.
As the soft sound of a tolling bell slowly dissipates into near silence you are suddenly awoken from a few brief moments of reflection by an unnervingly abrupt explosion of noise which in turn gives way to soft ambience. These few minutes that form the end of the first half and the beginning of the second of this two-track split release, in a sense, encapsulate the essence of this album and the two respective artists involved. Both Witxes and label-mates the Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones excel in creating tension-building atmosphere that is as unsettling as it is gripping.
This collaborative split sees the two artists take on a previously released track from their split companion, giving us two twenty minute reinterpretations that look to recapture the atmosphere of the original tracks whilst musically reinventing them. The similarities between the two pieces presented here and their respective counterparts are subtle, with both artists very much creating their own individual works based on the ambience of the originals rather than their musical composition.
Witxes’ half of the split, Pieces Analogue
, focusses almost entirely on the underlying soundscapes that lurk in the background of the Dale Cooper Quartet’s Nourrain Quinquet
, creating an absorbing ambient soundscape of his own that stands as his most spacious and expansive piece since 2012’s Winter Light Burns
. The Dale Cooper Quartet’s decision to pick The Apparel
from Witxes’ 2013 album A Fabric of Beliefs
as the influence for their track, Le Strategie Saint-Frusquin
, must have been a fairly straight forward one. The Apparel
shares some strong similarities in terms of style and mood with much of the bands own work allowing them to successfully build a piece that plays to their own strengths. The trademark dark jazz sound of the quartet is ever present throughout the track’s many movements as it shifts through various mood changes, even incorporating a brief vocals passage towards its final quarter.
Whilst it’s the combination of the two pieces that makes this such an interesting release, it’s side 2, Witxes’ Pieces Analogue
, which is the biggest success here. When looked at within the context of the album it is just as much a testament to Witxes’ ability to create decidedly accessible and engaging ambient music as it is a tribute to the Dale Cooper Quartet’s grasp of moody ambience, and when taken out of context of this collaborative effort, it stands as one of the highlights of Witxes’ recording career so far. However, it is testament to both
artists and the mutual respect and understanding they have for each other’s music that this album works so well as a whole, as the two pieces not only work extremely well individually but, as a pair, constitute one of the best ambient/experimental releases of 2014.