Adam Varney learned to play guitar in the early nineties, the glorious lo-fi era of tapelabels and four tracks tape recorders which is long gone now. But instead of falling into nostalgia he moved his instrumental expression towards the field of ambient music with a profusion of field recordings with an emphasis given to guitar atmospheres.
"23" is an ep released on Rural Colours, a sub-label of Hibernate, releasing low-scale edition of particular hard to classify records and giving them for free too through archive.org.
Adam seems to project the image that he records in a big room with a big window on the first floor and a view towards gardens or the countryside, or at least he tries to project this vision using reverb and probably some delay and playing with the spatiality of his field recordings. There is still something clearly belonging the the nineties lo-fi ethics & aesthetics in this ep, and it can makes these composition hard to decode for people with no previous experience of this musical approach.
The sound of this ep is muffled, sometimes lacks of a certain clarity so at first it seems flat and somewhat unattractive. If you insist you finally find some life and a sense of spleen. "The guitar of "Befuddled" has got melancholic psychedelic accents, but seems drown into hiss and a profusion of field recordings and in a looped state so you don't really have to impression to move forward.
"Flogiston" seems to have been recorded in a huge empty hallway, the guitar is nice but the deforming effects added to it, deform and denature partially it's innocence. I think with just the bass and the guitar, recorded in a real hallway, this track would have sounded better.
A drone of distant traffic on the highway, echoed sounds of forest birds, water dripping on the walls of a cavern, you never really know where you really are on "Lucid", as the unities of time, place, and action are almost absent.
A guitar plays close to a river on "Flouse Hole Sun" before experimentation comes back again, with reverse sounds and the establishment of a gloomy atmosphere.
There are goond things on this ep but the lack of clarity and unity make it difficult to adhere.