Friday, January 11, 2008

LAISSEZ FAIRE "Asylum" (Abandon Ship Records)

Peter Friel's most recent offering on the Abandon Ship label makes up his sole output of last year, which is interesting considering the steady torrent of releases from his own JK Tapes imprint. Then again, the amount of time the man must spend painting his product (he's one of the most committed devotees of spraypaint as a commercial medium, in my opinion) has to account for many a missed recording opportunity. "Asylum" is full of the same psychedelic and chilly gutter resonance that would entice any ears particular to Mike Pollard's Arbor label. Appropriately too, since Friel and Pollard have previously collaborated in Widening Horizon (an earlier review of which can be found here). As with Pollard's recent Treetops cassette "When I Was Younger," "Asylum" deals with oncoming winter with a meditative but somehow ominous outlook. The first of four tracks, "Afgan" drops with an icy thud into percolating ambient loops and blurry melodic distortion which is most likely from a guitar or synthesizer but mashed beyond faintest recognition. Most of the album sticks to the same formula, but during the most frantic moments of "Platypus" and "Pomegranate" the churning scrapes and drones take on a unique animal-like tone. The dynamics range from lulling bass swells to harsh grainy obliteration, and although the sound is heavily layered it retains a live feel. One could gripe about the single sided c40 format, but it's a minor (and arguable) objection to an otherwise solid album. Nice iceberg motif on the full-color insert as well.

Abandon Ship: http://www.abandonshiprecords.com/