Monday, April 21, 2008

ALISTAIR CROSBIE "Sad Faces Of The Moon" (Peasant Magik)

This is the only music I have listened to for more than a week now. Seriously. I see absolutely no reason to ever take this tape out of my cassette deck. Every time it ends, I consider what to listen to next, pause, then flip this bastard over and play it again. Imagine you’ve never heard the term “Dark Ambient” before. Pretend the term is not a genre name, but in fact two adjectives paired to actually describe something. Scotland’s Alistair Crosbie sounds nothing like Alio Die (or any other wretched Goth garbage) but has produced a cold, sorrowful masterpiece of ambient music. “Sad Faces of the Moon” is, of course, culturally closer to the realm of the (pseudo) new age drone that labels like Students of Decay and Twonicorn have been promoting for the last couple of years. But while his peers, for the most part, explore major chords, blissful tones, and fuzz guitar harmonics, Crosbie’s palette is less overtly hopeful. The whole tape is absolutely drenched in reverb, as if the musical material was produced miles away, and the listener can observe only the splashy mournful decay, minutes later. The sounds themselves are earthy, organic, like two smooth stones being rubbed together, above which, the slowly shifting ring of a resonant windstorm howls. While avoiding anything that might be considered melodic, Crosbie’s soundscape evokes the kind of emotions that are usually targeted by melody. As listeners, we know that certain types of melody signify and trigger emotions like heartbreak, longing, grief, regret, and we can recognize them when they are used to manipulate us. “Sad Faces of the Moon” has the power to conjure these feelings without utilizing the usual bag of tricks to do so, and in doing, avoids the triteness and quaintness associated with those tricks. It is a truly astonishing release, with characteristically impressive packaging from the label, Peasant Magik.