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CD Album 2003 | Silber 030
7 tracks, 48 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256kbps, ~92 megs))
: More info
Small, Cymbal, Horns, Organ, Pulsar, Golden, Melodica
It's been a five years work
to complete SLF album, by Brian John Mitchell, the Remora mainman yet,
and bosslabel of silber. A very great debut, one, has seven dense drones
that flow slowly under the textures of sound to bring to light the primary
essence. Cornets, voices, melodica, organ e medium and low frequencies
that will prove your hi-fi speakers fidelity. No layered sounds, nor overdubs
in this album, but only the natural deep sounds.
~ Roberto Mandolini, Rockerilla
Itchy Ambient. During
the necessary research to understand this release, One thing became
clear. It is a far more sonically aggressive work than ambient generally
offers. Rather than play on the interaction of silences & noises,
it snuffs out silence & instead focuses on a constant, but unvarying
noisescape. It sounds almost like elevator music for science fiction
geeks. “Small” is possibly the most intriguing track here as it sounds
kind of like a large group of monks chanting in the desert. The tracks
are very deceptive though. The point of the release is to play all
the tracks at once & loop them all together continuously, which makes
it much less irritating because everything comes into focus together.
All in all, while it’s itchy, it’s very well done.
~ Heather Rusk, Comatose Rose
Brian John Mitchell aka SLF
is the artist hiding behind this obscure project & the owner of Silber
Records as well. With One he invites us to a very complex
sound universe that lives in between experimental & noise. It’s
just regretting that the concept & creation of such releases are often
more interesting than the final result… but listeners are of course first
interested by this result. Different instruments & noise sources
like trumpet, trombone, voice, Chinese cymbal, floor tom, vera pulsar,
horn, percussion, human voice… have realize the One project.
Discovering the result of these recordings we get a kind of dark buzzing
atmospheres. Well, it’s not bad for a moment, but the seven pieces
are too linear & similar, keeping my attention away after some minutes!
This is definitely the kind of stuff that can be only enjoyed by the heaviest
addicts of the genre!
~ Stephane Froidcouer, Side Line
Ambient soundscapes were
around long before Eno coined the term in connection with his Discreet
Music release nearly 30 years ago, and today many artists continue to mine
this fertile tradition of "speaker hum" music, from Stars of The Lid and
Windy & Carl to Aarktica and The Azusa Plane. Into this esoteric yet
equally accessible school of new music we welcome the five-years-in-the-making
One, the marvellous debut from Small Life Form, the one-man project of
Silber honcho Brian John Mitchell, who also records the other end of his
guitar mania spectrum as Remora.
"Small" grafts a continuously looping monotonic "OM" over a beating tone that sounds like your heart hooked up to an oscillating metronome, resulting in the musical equivalent of an EKG. "Cymbal" adds a metallic lustre to the proceedings - imagine hooking that EKG up to your refrigerator or air conditioner. Trumpets and trombones are the main instruments used in "Horns," which combines haunting, disembodied riffs with industrial engine hums - sort of like the next-door neighbour warming up his car on a cold winter morning.
Not only is One an enthralling listening experience as presented, but it also is a sonic project waiting to happen for those of you with the inclination and equipment. Mitchell says these pieces were created in such a way as to be looped and listened to simultaneously to create a completely new work. Unfortunately, you'll need seven CD players, each with a different track set on "repeat" to enjoy Mitchell's ultimate creation.
Those with the patience and adventurous inclination to try something new will find One a deeply disturbing, challenging, yet ultimately rewarding work.
~ Jeff Penczak, Ptolemaic Terrascope
Ok, this is just over 48
minutes of pure drone. No drum machines, buried melodies, lyrics, dynamics,
chord changes, or song structures. It comes courtesy of one Brian John
Mitchell, previously known as the man behind Silber Records and his own
band, Remora. So, with these associations, drone obviously isn't foreign
to him. However, this is the first time it's been presented by him in it's
rawest and most simple form. Pure drone. Which is great! This music will
either bore you to death, put you to sleep, or entrance you. Similar in
vibe to Stars of the Lid or La Monte Young, One carves out a steady, unwavering
and hypnotizing buzz.
The songs are largely titled (presumably) after the different instruments used to create the seven tracks of drone. Cymbal, horns, organ, melodica and pulsar (via a radio telescope) all stretched and expanded into far reaching tunnels of sound. You will either love this or hate this. It's unrelenting in it's simplicity, and the hole it could open in your head is bottomless.
~ Sean Hammond, fakejazz
Small Life Form is the solo
project of Brian John Mitchell, owner of Silber Records and also member
of the bands Remora and Vlor. Small Life Form is all about sound more so
than actually creating real listenable music. As I’m sure that sounds a
bit weird, let me elaborate a bit more on that for you. For all intents
and purposes each song has repetitive droning synth work that doesn’t change
much, if at all with vocals and other instruments like trumpet, trombone,
Chinese cymbal, floor tom, vera pulsar, and an electric wind organ either
layered over the synth sounds or used in the same droning manner. While
certainly an interesting approach to creating music and at times the album
proves to be enjoyable, but forty eight minutes of droning with very little
musical variation really gets to you after awhile. I think the idea of
the music droning is just fine, but at some point there’s got to be something
more melodic that will grab your attention and save you from passing out,
but unfortunately there never is. Still the album has a few interesting
moments to it, but as I had said earlier forty plus minutes of basically
the same thing over and over again is a bit too much to digest. Fans of
droning music/sound this is an album for you.
~ Blackwinged, Lunar Hypnosis
This is Brian John Mitchell
(Remora, Silber Records) intoning and droning these minimalist soundscapes
with whispered textural mumbles and eerie atmospherics. Not music in any
melodic or linear way. Comparable to: Coil, John Duncan, Nurse With Wound,
a hydroelectric generator deep inside an enormous dam, the echoed overtones
of a chanting choir of monks, or the undercarriage of an 18 wheeler going
80 MPH down an anonymous gray highway. Heaven or hell turning over and
over like two sides of the same coin; galactic or interpersonal universes;
microscopic or macrocosmic soundtracks that scour and/or lull in a painless
hypnotic landscape of stone and metal.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine
Small Life Form's One
opens like a prayer, or the musical backdrop to one, with one sustained
note floating in front of you like something you should be contemplating.
That note holds through all 10 minutes of that first song "Small," as sounds
and voices lightly flicker around it. Sound boring? It isn't, it's beautiful.
The other six tracks all have this same intensity of focus and meditative
atmosphere, like fog clouds of sound that grow, shrink and gently mutate
as they slowly glide across they sky. In fact, the album as a whole feels
much like the living being referenced in the band name ("band" being more
a term than reality, as all sounds were made by Brian John Mitchell); it
comes off like something growing and coming into form before your eyes.
Yet each track is distinct-some rumble and shake ("Pulsar"), others carefully
inch forward in a slightly creepy way ("Horns"). Most are titled after
the instrument featured most prominently in the track ("Cymbal," "Melodica,"
etc.), and if I'm reading the liner notes correctly, if you bring the instruments
together by playing all of the tracks at once, you'll have another creation
entirely. So perhaps you have not just one musical life form here, but
seven, which together make one. In any case, One has textures and atmospheres
that are intoxicating, if you're prepared to accept them.
~ Dave Heaton, Erasing Clouds
The fractal image that appears
on the packaging thankfully does not belie the music that can be found
within, as Brian John Mitchell finally releases his debut drone release
as Small Life Form. The head of Silber Media and sometimes man of Remora,
Mitchell has been slaving at the record for a reported five years, striving
to somehow bring to life the noises he heard in his head, and not relenting
until he had achieved the accurate representation. One, then, is
an auspicious debut, as hopefully Mitchell can reproduce the steps to bring
this kind of music forth again. If not, this album would almost be statement
enough. The drones and dirges Small Life Form creates are swelling with
a full, warm tone that evokes images of birth and death almost simultaneously,
as though one were viewing an entire life in the time the track has to
play. Sometimes the sound resulting from the use of organ, percussion,
melodica, vocals, and horns is indistinguishable: it is impossible to pick
out one element from the rest. This induces a feeling of isolation and
fear, the unknown you can't pick out, even though the simple titles of
the track give the more core component away. Elsewhere, the familiarity
of a horn sound or organ drew me in, expecting more of the same, only to
expose me to far more, and the pulses soothe and excite at once. Gradual
introduction of other sounds was also a real plus, and at every moment
I felt welcome and invited. Sounds are played out to their natural end,
adding a discombobulated, uneven footing. A part of one track is almost
exactly like the other parts, but when something new creeps in it changes
the landscape completely. Some tracks may go on too long, but it is of
little consequence: One is a fine achievement and I hope to hear
more sooner than five years from now.
~ Rob Devlin, Brainwashed
In today's world of experimental
music, many releases consist of uninspired and hastily thrown-together
layers of random noise and processed instruments. Small Life form, however,
is the real deal. The project of Silber Records head Brian John Mitchell,
Small Life Form draws its influences and basis from the old-school techniques
of musique concrete and musique electronique. Five years in the making,
is a collection of 7 tracks of processed sound recorded live in real time
Apparently, the album is designed for all tracks to be played back at the same time and looped to create a sound collage of infinite length. Therefore, a single 7 track CD is an unfortunate and problematic presentation of the material seeing as how the only way to play the tracks at once is to either buy 7 copies of the album (or burn 6 copies from the original) and play them on 7 different CD players or go through the trouble of ripping the CD to your computer and importing the .wav or mp3 files into a multitrack recording program. This might be feasible for an experimental electronic music concert of some type or perhaps even for a musician with a home recording studio. Unfortunately, however, most listeners don't have the equipment or ability (or determination, for that matter) to listen to this recording in the way that was intended.
Being the conscientious reviewer that I am, I actually took the time to rip all 7 tracks to .wav files and mix and loop them in my home studio in order to properly experience the album. The result was a breathtaking wall of noise with both dissonant and melodic content formed from the interaction of the piece's seven components. General melodic content and character (as well as some dissonance) rose from the interplay between "horns", "organ", and "melodica" while "small" (a track made up of processed voices) and "cymbal" provided extra body and definition. "Golden" gave an extra high-end boost to the mixture while the filtered-noise quality of "Pulsar" (apparently a vera pulsar as observed through a radio telescope) really added a strong stereo component to the mix with panning sweeps and swells of intensity. A constant drone from my subwoofer combined with the rest of the sounds to create a beautiful ethereal mass of sweeping sound with something of an orchestral quality. It was definitely a spectacular experience and an excellent piece of work.
While the idea of multiple tracks meant to be played at the same time with varying starting points and looping is by no means a new or original idea (in fact, the idea was even introduced to mainstream audiences by The Flaming Lips on their Zaireeka release, which also contained the required number of CDs to play the entire album at once if enough CD players were present), One is still a very compelling release that uses the concept to its full potential. I imagine it would be extremely interesting to play this album in a setting where each track could be played through a different set of speakers, allowing you to experiment with speaker positions and acoustics. Unfortunately, as I said, most listeners won't be able to hear this interesting composition in its intended form at all much less hear it through equipment that would allow for additional sound experimentation and acoustic manipulation of the elements of the recordings. In short, it's a brilliant, ever-evolving composition of infinite length when played as one piece that will unfortunately be experienced by most listeners as 7 separate, droning and far less compelling tracks each containing one component of a much greater whole.
~ Joshua Heinrich, Grave Concerns
Whenever we need an ambient
drone fix...we turn to Raleigh, North Carolina's esoteric Silber label
for the latest pertinent injection. Small Life Form is a particularly welcome
release...because it was created by the founder of the label himself. Brian
John Mitchell has developed a solid following by releasing music by bands
and artists with virtually no commercial potential and who truly expand
the boundaries of music. From the start, Mitchell's label has obviously
been a labor of love...with an emphasis on releasing unique, quality releases.
should be warmly received by those who are already familiar with the obtuse
and mesmerizing Silber sound. Mitchell spent five years working on this
album. It was recorded in real time without overdubs, with Brian playing
all the instruments himself. On the first spin, one might be inclined to
dismiss this album as a mere electronic drone experiment. Upon closer observation,
however, it becomes apparent that these compositions are keenly focused
and contain a wealth of subtleties that make them truly hypnotic and intriguing.
Some of the basic ideas here remind us of those inherent in the music of
Charity Empressa. The idea is to use sound in order to put the listener
into a trance-like state. These seven pieces are wonderfully peculiar and
tastefully executed to perfection. While not for everyone, this album should
be welcomed by those into truly mind-expanding electronics with a difference.
Seven lengthy cuts including "Small," "Organ," "Pulsar," and "Melodica."
First off, let me say that
with this compact disc, the press release states: “One can be listened
straight through, but is ultimately designed for all tracks to be played
back simultaneously and looped for an infinite performance of the work
as a whole.”
This album is very slow ambient along the lines of early Morthond releases, or the Time Machine releases by Coil. This release seems based in Drone/sound category in a very good way. I can imagine the songs played looped on top of each other and it would be wonderful indeed.
The Cymbals (track two) are haunting and persistent throughout, added to the infrequent Pulsar (track five) beats, and a mesmerizing feat has indeed been created.
This album would not be good at a dance club unless being used as atmosphere creation before the bands perform. At once moody and organic, this album is a masterpiece. I’m excited to hear what else Silber media does with their future releases for they sure seem to have a consistent direction of odd noise experimentation.
~ Azrael Racek, Gothic Revue
Small Life Form’s album One
has been the single most unique listening experience of my life. It has
no contemporaries, no peers. It is in a class all its own. This is because
it is also one of the most bizarre albums I’ve ever listened to. Comprised
of seven tracks, One is nothing more than an intense sonic project
(in the most literal sense of the word) that took the architect, Brian
John Mitchell, five years to complete.
You can’t fully understand or appreciate the album without the liner notes, taken verbatim: “The tracks on this recording are designed so they may all be listened to simultaneously while looped. The instruments used on this recording are melodica, trumpet, trombone, voice, Chinese cymbal, floor tom, vera pulsar (via radio telescope), and electronic wind organ. Recorded in real time without overdubs or multi-tracking…”
Clearly Small Life Form is a scientific project as much as it is a creative work (a work that took five years to complete). In fact, I picture Mitchell as more of a mad scientist whiling away the hours in a secluded laboratory than as an impassioned artist pouring his heart into a labor of love. But in the same way, minimalist art found inspiration in efficiently mass-produced consumer products, there are subjective undertones of sheer beauty in this work.
The most outright success is the track “Pulsar.” The liner notes indicate that it is indeed comprised of the sounds emanating from one of those deep space neutron stars as captured through a radio telescope. It sounds a bit like a warped, distant helicopter, although the scope of the frequency range exhibited is far greater than what the earthbound machine is capable of. It is the pure sound of nature at its most exotic and extreme.
The liner notes also imply that the best way to enjoy the album is by listening to different combinations of the tracks simultaneously. Unfortunately, some sort of multitrack audio program is necessary to do so, and most listeners don’t have access to one. But I do, and so after ripping the tracks off the CD and saving them as .wav files (they come as standard .cda audio files, although I feel .wavs should have been provided to simplify the process) I opened my multitrack program and anxiously loaded the .wavs. Unfortunately, each track so thoroughly covers the sonic spectrum that I couldn’t listen to more than two at once (and sometimes not even that) without intense clipping occurring. Now, I admit I don’t have the greatest sound card and speakers in all of Computerdom, but I do have a multitrack program and a lot of patience. There are very few people who have everything necessary to enjoy this album as (I believe) Mitchell intended.
Then again, I’m probably wrong. Not that the album tracks were meant to be enjoyed separately, rather that they weren’t meant to be enjoyed at all, at least in a musical sense. These seven tracks are simply an extraordinary collection of pure walls of sound, thick and full and incredibly intense, deserving of appreciation for the complex process that brought them into existence in the first place.
~ Delusions of Adequacy
Already known for his song-based
project Remora -- and as the owner of the label Silber -- Brian John Mitchell,
with his first Small Life Form release, introduces us to a very different
side to his music. One consists of seven instrumental drone
pieces ranging from contemplative to noisy and disturbed. The liner notes
state that the tracks are designed so they may all be listened to simultaneously
while looped. Doing so will create an ever-changing piece (since the tracks
have irregular lengths) akin to a sound installation. But chances are you
don¹t have seven CD players at home, so you will most likely listen
to the tracks one at a time. These are fine drones, varied in colors and
textures, occasionally a bit blurry and shy on stereo dynamics, but otherwise
nicely recorded. Mitchell plays melodica, trumpet, trombone, Chinese cymbal,
floor tom, and an electric wind organ. "Horns" is the strongest drone:
rich, complex, and in the noisy end of the spectrum, it grabs you by the
solar plexus, while quieter pieces like "Small," "Cymbal," or "Golden"
simply create an atmosphere. In "Organ," Mitchell reveals the already complex
harmonics and air fluctuations of the electric wind organ by playing one
long note at a time. "Melodica" is a beautiful piece that retains the characteristics
of its namesake instrument, even though it is carried by a pulsing magma
of frequencies that sound nothing like it.
~ François Couture, All Music Guide
Small Life Form is a solo
project from Silber Records head honcho Brian John Mitchell. I've reviewed
a couple of Brian's tapes of sonic assault guitar drones released under
his guise as Remora, but Small Life Form - though similar to Remora in
terms of sound exploration and its effect on the senses - is a different
beast in its execution and resulting perceptions by the listener (at least
me anyway). Rather than guitar, the instruments used on the album are melodica,
trumpet, trombone, voice, chinese cymbal, floor tom, vera pulsar (via radio
telescope) and electric wind organ.
There are 7 tracks on the CD, though the liner notes point out that they were designed to be listened to simultaneously while looped. I listened straight through and found this standard method to be a sufficiently mesmerizing experience. This is stuff that screams out for extended development so it came as no surprise that the longer tracks were the most satisfying. "Small" is a highlight that consists of slowly pulsating drones and OM-like chants that have a didgeridoo sensation. It's hard to describe and must be experienced, but the combination of pulsations and winding chants is hypnotic and the 10 minutes of this track went by like 2.
"Horns" has an effect that's somewhere between a machine shop and avant-garde symphony orchestra. And while the horns are detectable as such, they are presented in unconventional ways. Once again it's the pulsations settling into the brain that facilitated my focus on the piece. Mitchell does an impressive job of incorporating high volume and aggression... but in such a way that the volume isn't too high and the aggression relatively sedate... the result being not necessarily meditative but certainly something I was able to focus my mantra on.
"Organ" broke my concentration. It's not high volume but is certainly high pitched and I had to turn the volume down on this one. But the attraction of the piece is the melody which is so simple and develops oh so slowly, yet finds notes and tones that produced a similar effect on my senses as "Small" did. I would also give credit to the mix, which has the music strategically weaving it's way from left to right to left and swirling around in the center, and. "Melodica" is similar in its use of melody. Very nice. Recommended to patient and attentive listeners who enjoy putting on the headphones and surrendering themselves to pure sound.
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations
When I opened to liner notes
to One, the first album from Silber Media head Brian John Mitchell’s
Small Life Form project, it told me that “the tracks on this recording
are designed so they may all be listened to simultaneously while looped”.
Now, that’s a really neat idea, but I have no idea how I could personally
put it into practice. And, having no experience with Silber’s releases
or Small Life Form itself, it gave me a completely wrong idea of what One
would be like.
Hearing that the seven tracks here were intended to be listened to together, I imagined the they would each be sparse and somehow incomplete without the others, like interlocking puzzle pieces that only made sense as a whole, or, to put it another way, that it would be like listening to the Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka one disc at a time.
Instead, what I found was a series of thick, rich drones, occasionally reminding me in timbre of the early work of Flying Saucer Attack, and resembling in progression Spacemen 3’s old drone piece "An Evening Of Contemporary Sitar Music" (which is fully capable of hypnotizing a person for its full 44 minute duration). Each track is named for the instruments used within ("Cymbal," "Organs," "Melodica") and was performed by Mitchell alone and without overdubs. Some of the tracks (including a recording of the “vera pulsar” via radio telescope) are shorter, lasting 2-3 minutes in length, while the others are in the 9-10 minute range, the longest being "Horns" at 11:50.
"Horns" is also the most compelling work here, a single slow pulse on trumpet being bathed in delay and echo; the end effect is similar to watching a freighter dock in heavy fog, of something looming out of thick mist.
Given the individual sonic depth of each of the tracks here, I’m not sure how they’d sound mashed up against one another, but I can easily see Mitchell putting on a satisfying live show using just the contents of One, introducing new elements and fading them out, building on the vocal samples of "Small" or the swell of "Organ." The shorter pieces are just as interesting (particularly "Cymbal"), and would make interesting additions once looped.
The reason One makes such a good listen, though, is that even when you can’t perform that sort of trickery at home, the tracks here work just as well in isolation. Mitchell’s mission is, to quote the Silber website, to focus on “sound as an entity meant to be concentrated on, not casually listened to." On One, he’s succeeded.
~ Ian Mathers, Stylus
I get a little metaphysical
about drones. At it's best, the drone can put you into a deep hypnotic
state, a trance which can put you in touch with the ohm, or the frequency
at which the universe vibrates. Either that, or you can get stoned and
I frickin' love Silber Media. You don't get many labels that focus on that brand of heady atmospherics anymore, and it's even more unusual to have a label that does both traditional (read: academic, which is closer to what Small Life Form is) forms of drone music, plus all kinds of shoegaze and drone-pop.
There's not much to say about a CD that is basically 7 tracks of long, ringing tones drawn out to their breaking points. What Small Life Form has accomplished here is quite impressive however: where most bands that drone do so on guitars, these drones are done completely organically, with all drones done by certain instruments and often named after the instrument performed on ("Cymbal," "Horns," "Organ," you get the idea).
To add to the craziness, these seven tracks are designed to be played simultaneously and looped infinitely, which would probably make it sound like The Flaming Lips Zaireeka on crack. I dunno. I don't want to spend $70+ on seven discs and spend the time tracking down 7 CD players and 7 friends to all hit play at the same time. I'd rather get high and listen track 1 on repeat.
~ Rick Arnow, 1340mag
Background noise to a David
Lynch film. I'm sure this is used in one of those scenes where he zooms
into a dark corner, then it takes you into another scene or reality. I
have no idea why this stuff is released on CD when this is perfect for
~ Mike Turner, The Bee's Knees
For the life of me, I can't
really explain my attraction to drone-based "music". It's not so much an
academic appreciation of the stuff (although that's part of it) as it is
an innate, natural fascination that's been with me, well, always. Even
as a child, I found myself fascinated by the droney ambience of empty rooms.
I'd become fixated on the faint hum of the house's heating and cooling
systems, intrigued by the way that extraneous sounds (outside noises, sounds
of people in other rooms, the creaks of the house itself, etc.) filtered
in and incorporated themselves into the sonic backdrop.
I've always enjoyed walking through backalleys, behind the offices and stores, where all of the huge fans, heating units, and power supplies sit, and listening to the huge roars and electrical crackles. You can almost feel the sound manifesting itself in the air, the entire area vibrating with some unseen energy. And during the summer months, while living in places with less than adequate cooling, the drone of the window fan was often the last thing I heard before drifting off to sleep.
Somehow, I get the sense that Small Life Form's Brian John Mitchell (Remora, Silber Records head honcho) comes from a similar perspective. On One, he explores drone to its fullest, bathing the listener in huge swaths of pure sonic drifts and tides. For the most part, it's not particularly pretty, or even all that emotionally involving (for that sort of drone, look to Aarktica's No Solace In Sleep). But what it is is impactful. You can literally feel the drones washing over you, painting your room in pure sound, and setting your entire body to vibrate as the sounds collide through you.
While many drone albums start with guitars, Mitchell eschews that approach, leaving that for his Remora project. Instead, as the song titles might suggest, Mitchell takes the sounds of cymbals, horns, and organs, and proceeds to sculpt and stretch them to the breaking point until they cease resembling their original form almost entirely. "Horns" is a perfect example of this. Here, the listener is plopped right down in the middle of a beehive caught in slow motion, as huge, repetitive buzzing sounds shift and float all around and threaten to crush you. And on the album's opener, "Small", Mitchell manipulates his voice into something much bigger and deeper, as if you suddenly stumbled across a canyon of several hundred monks chanting in an alien wilderness.
Is it harsh and grating? Oftentimes, it is. And yet the sounds, as blunt and oppressive as they might be, have a way of battering your feeble defenses until you eventually surrender and become completely enveloped by them - as is the case with the monolithic, carved-from-alien-ice tones on "Organ". At the same time, they can be very hypnotic, lulling you into a trance that's quite pervasive and shocking when broken. In fact, as I typed that last sentence, my roommate came home. The noise of the door opening and his footsteps on the wooden floor broke the mood so suddenly and so completely that I literally jumped in my chair - and I still have some shivers from the experience.
Those who find drone boring and monotonous are going to hate One with a passion, and to be honest, I've even found it rather tedious at times. I've listened to One several times before, and it's just never clicked. However, I pulled it from the "To Be Reviewed" pile on a whim tonight and decided to give it another listen. If nothing else, I thought, it might make for some nice background music while working on some other project. But for some reason, on this particular listen, it clicked and everything seemed to fall into place - much like my experience with Supersilent's 6 (another release I found quite impenetrable at first).
Call it sudden enlightenment, a moment of clarity, whatever. But it just worked, and I don't know if I'll have that experience again. It could very well be that all subsequent listens might prove as tedious as my first forays into the disc - which makes me want to savor this experience all the more.
~ Jason Morehead, Opus Zine
The liner notes tell us that
"the tracks on this recording are designed so they may all be listened
to simultaneously," but owning only one stereo rather than seven, I was
forced to listen to them one at a time. Typical of the album is the first
song, "Small" which consists of one note held for eleven minutes, with
some very subtle additions submerged deep in the mix. To call it boring
would be to miss the point -- but what the point is, I can't tell you.
It likely has something to do with the fact that these non-songs were recorded
in real-time without overdubs -- a remarkable achievement that makes them
no more interesting to hear. It likely wouldn't require more than one take
to film a man sleeping, but I wouldn't want to watch eight hours of that.
Of course, some might find this extreme minimalism challenging, or they
might find that it zeros their alpha waves for some extra intense meditation
or something, but most people would probably shut Small Life Form off after
ten seconds or so.
~ Rob Horning, Splendid
La Silber Records è
molto attiva oltreoceano, certo una piccola etichetta, ma con otto-nove
uscite regolari l'anno, senza correnti principali da seguire ne coolness
a cui inchinarsi, solo la musica della Silber. In poche parole indipendenza.
Small Life Form è il progetto di Brian John Mitchell (la testa dietro la Silber Records) che vede il suo debutto sulla propria etichetta con numero di catalogo 30, subito dopo altre ottime uscite fra cui i Rollerball di cui parleremo prossimamente.
Suono che non vuol essere che questo, suono per il corpo, suono come creazione e distruzione; una linea semplice quanto indisponente se calata in un environment fatto di citazioni e giustificazioni colte, punti di riferimento coccolati dalle testate più underground. Fortunatamente così non è alla Silberg (sembra il paese di Oz vero?), quindi posso pure sganciare il cervello dai fermi che lo tengono ancorato alla scatola cranica, e immergermi in questi 50 min (quasi) di drones, movimenti circolari, riproposizioni e omotetie dei suoni. Non ho la minima idea riguardo l'environment di Small Life Form, non so quanto ci sia di spirituale, non so quanto ci sia di materiale, non so quanto ci sia di artificiale, non so se sia giusto continuare... semplicemente lo faccio. E' una sorta di discesa a spirale, non conciliante e ,con il dovuto rispetto, equidistante da David Marahnah e Terry Riley; suoni di fiati che ricordano i corni tibetani, cupi gorgoglii, tessiture ambientali sovrapposte piùe più volte. Insomma una specie di mandala sonoro che riesce a cullarti, a farti invaghire di altri mondi, di altri modi di essere, ma non con il sorriso in bocca.
Forse il nirvana come dovrebbe essere: glaciale, lentamente mutevole; nessuna speranza, ne gioia, solo suono.
~ Luca Confusione, Kathodik
Boss du label Silber Records,
l’homme qui a donné naissance à cette petite forme de vie
se nomme Brian John Mitchell, un artiste-baroudeur arpentant depuis 10
ans maintenant les couloirs de la musique électronique.
Sa toute récente offrande, One, est assez déroutante au premier abord. Il faut imaginer des pistes d’assez longue durée (on approche souvent les 8 minutes), composées exclusivement de drones ambient qui ne subissent que d’infimes variations tout au long de leur déploiement. "Derrière tout cela, il doit bien y avoir un concept !". Bien sûr, il y en a un. L’état d’esprit de l’album est pour tout dire assez psychédélique. Les nappes sont parfois d’inspiration asiatique ; on peut y déceler d’immenses trompes tibétaines ou des voix bouddhiques... Ces instruments aux sonorités reconnaissables qui participent ici de boucles très denses à l’ampleur cosmique. Pour le reste, melodica, trompette, trombone, cymbale chinoise, orgue électrique et voix sont autant d’entités formant la base acoustique derrière l’album.
One est vraisemblablement à écouter sous l’emprise de psychotropes, du moins je devine que son impact en serait d’autant plus fort - l’album lui-même serait à ranger parmi les narcotiques. One impose le temps de l’écoute et de la contemplation. Le dénuement rythmique et le vol permanent de ses boucles obligent à un retour sur soi ainsi qu’à porter un regard mystique sur la réalité des choses. Mysticisme... Oui, c’est bien la clé qui sous-tend Small Life Form. Ici pas de délires rythmiques ni de prouesses structurelles, pas non plus de sons ostentatoires ; il s’agit souvent d’une nappe bourdonnante de fond par dessus laquelle apparaissent et disparaissent des samples lancinants. Le parti pris de Brian John Mitchell est évidemment d’amener à un état spécifique d’attention, où l’étalement continu et pulsatile des sons deviendrait une expérience physique à part entière (il est spécifié dans le livret que toutes les pistes peuvent être bouclées et écoutées simultanément).
Les notions de cycle et de répétition sont fondatrices de ce disque perché tout prés des étoiles et des dieux de l’orient. Il y a un fort esprit goa derrière cette œuvre hypnotisante qui demande à la base une ouverture spirituelle à son auditoire, et surtout du temps, qu’il distille poétiquement en donnant une nouvelle définition de la durée : la constance de l’apogée, en quelque sorte un paroxysme figé, une épiphanie méditative.
~ Autres Directions