BRET SCHNEIDER “Chronolalia” (Phinery)

I don’t think I’ve ever been privy to such wildly active “meditative” music. It’s like Bret Schneider, the maestro behind this four-part concoction, has somehow found the perfect balance between movement and stillness, where in the presence of a sound bombardment he’s found profound peace. I don’t know that anyone will ever achieve anything so gracefully foregrounded and backgrounded at the same time. They can sure try though, and I hope Schneider is at the forefront of the next round of releases that sound like this, because I am absolutely hooked from moment one.

Chronolalia flirts with something like drone, but Schneider achieves this not by presenting layers of pastoral sound or treated texture but by inundating the listener with tonal rhythms that form odd melodies that the ear picks up after deep immersion. It’s like audio pointillism – stick your ear too close and you get nothing, but back up, relax, let it come to you, and it forms vast scenes and environments that you can lose yourself in for hours. Well, for the duration of the tape anyway. I guess if you let it repeat it could go on for hours.

I get the same effect, sometimes, from black metal. Not that this sounds anything like black metal.

Each of the four pieces flows within itself, and into and out of one another, expanding the definition of treated electronic music as the pings and ripples collide and form synaesthetic visions. It’s enlightening in its execution. Bret Schneider has made me contemplate things – no, I’ve seen things – that I’ve never thought possible within the confines of the human mind. Maybe he’s helping me tap in to the other 90 percent or so of my brain that scientists are always telling us we’re not using. Maybe I’ll come out of this listening experience a mutant with powers that’ll save you all! Nah, who am I kidding, you’re all toast.

--Ryan Masteller