31 August 2010

Kyle Bobby Dunn - a young person's guide to (2010, Low Point)

Two disks, close to two hours of ambient atmospheric soundscape music,  both daunting and saturating to listen to this record , when , first there is not much variation and secondly, others have already explored the genre and imposed their approach, style and aesthetics.
If I look at the picture on the cover I see someone eating in a trendy, probably Greek, restaurant. Is this record like a restaurant and I'm invited to consume? An consume a young person's guide to the artist, like discovering a city with a Lonely Planet guide?

 I suspect the trial to give some humor with the artwork but it's not a good introduction to the massive meal contained. A meal, and music is not a meal or at least two hours of music is not fine dining.  Kyle Bobby Dunn, from Brooklyn and 24 years old, seems like over productive, dedicated to quantity, diluting quality with water or starchy food. Listening to "A young person's guide to", much more than having an abstract of his work, is yourself having to make the synthesis of it. Having listened three times to this album, I have no clear idea about what exactly hi personal perspective but I'm already exhausted.

What is particular of his music is the classical dimension, he uses real instruments, often played by classically trained musicians, and then digitally process the whole things through effects digitally, we keep the grandeur of classical instruments but everything is smoothed as evolving layers of sounds. That's for the process. The content, the inspiration, the core, are less obvious to decode.

The first track is also the longest one, with its eighteen minutes "Butel" stands like a gate at the entry with drone unfolding in all directions like a defensive fortress. I have no clear view of this track's structure and I'm unable to relate emotionally to it. But the rest of the first volume is working better on me :
“The Tributary (For Voices Lost)” reminds me of certain Harold Budd works, it's like a large balloon, filled with buoyant gas, rising slowly towards the bluest sky, where the oxygen is so rare that breathing becomes impossible.  “There Is No End To Your Beauty” tastes the infinite spaces, behind the confinement of a space suit or below a warm duvet when there is an icy starry sky behind the window of the bedroom. We fall asleep, we dream and this is "Promenade", the quietness , smiles and peacefulness of someone experiencing these feelings in the comfortableness of the bed. "A Small Show of Hands" would be the deep sleep appeasement when body and mind are embracing the fortifying part of the night from which a fresh state of mind will emerge in the morning.

"Grab (And Its Lost Legacies)" is like waking up and looking outside to discover an uniform landscape, would it be a misty ocean or snow blanketed plains, with no real point of focus, half asleep, the eyes fine-tuning slowly out of their blurriness. Open sky and crystal clear vision, clouds advancing on a vast sky for "Empty Gazing", a traditional ambient track à la Stars of The Lid followed by a celestial filtered piano on "Last Minute Jest" with its unfolding rainy landscapes as seen from a train, so repetitive that we fall alseep along a"The Second Ponderosa"lacking of substance.

Peaceful and invigorating visions on "Bonaventure's Finest Hour", which is indeed maybe the finest hour here as titles are often literal descriptions of content's intentions, like it's the case for the title. The penultimate composition  is the best example, "Sets of Four" with as subtitle: "Its meaning is deeper than its title implies", this idiosyncrasy of auto-commenting remove a part of humility and intimacy contained naturally in his music and for me it makes difficult to consider this minimalist piano piece with all the attention necessary.

What is missing in this album is a poetical dimension, something that would hide the technical and conceptual directions, Kyle Bobby Dunn needs to work on his touch, something that would be his own, a personal higher impact and a specific dimension with deepened aesthetic choices, this side of him is neglected here.

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