31 December 2011

Swimming - ellipses (Audiobulb, 2011)

"Ellipses" is the debut album for Swimming, aka Devon Ferrucci, from Arcata, CA. His music seems to go through a lot of processing and reworking, with fragments and layers of guitars, keyboards, occasional whispers and hums, lots of beats and percussion instruments, denoting a true sense of imagination, a natural inclination for complexity and an idea of perfectionism mixed with sincerity.

While listening, I sometimes have to impression to be confronted with several records playing at the same times, sometimes mixed or just superimposed. Devon Ferrucci doesn't seem to be a defender and fan of minimalism, stacking his ideas of structure and textures instead of synthesizing their essence.

I think, there is enough matter inside "Ellipses" to compose two good albums and a bad one and instead he is offering the whole in 45 minutes and 13 tracks. 

It is for him the result of two years of improvisation and intensive composition, with a patient work on textures and structures. If it often looks like a crowded catalog of ideas and feelings, it is mostly consistent and he avoids saturation while keeps an obvious fluidity, though at times we are closer to viscosity.

I feel like descending metro escalators on "(aspirated) plosives", a slow move and transfer between two destinations, crossing people following the opposite direction, like floating under fluorescent lights, in an enclosed public area. 

"We fill the gaps" is much more interesting, built around a slow melancholic guitar theme, completed with beats as wavelets at sea. There is an interesting balance between the pensive pastoral slowness of the strings and the gentle playfulness of the rhythms.

A similar compositions follows with "Anyhow" but with a sunnier acoustic guitar and processed spoken word.  It is maybe not as striking but relatively similar to what Apeiron did on their "Todo sigue intacto" album and it is certainly a direction to explore further.

Drum's bass rhythms on "what duties (1...2...3) !" which I find hard to digest but the second part is just sublime, when they recede, letting the forefront to a nice reverberated and processed arpeggiated electric guitar.

"Hourglass with snow" is conceived with a layer of processed harp sounds in the background and flows naturally as walking down a treeline pavement, on your way home, under pleasant weather. 

“Ellipsis Pt. 1” is an ambient folk song full of whispers, and you just wish he would have turned his humming into real lyrics and vocals, because you have this "nice but could have been better" impression on the tip of your tongue all along. The frustration only grows bigger with the “Ellipsis Pt. 2” which sounds like a perfect rythmic backbone for this same song, with even a second guitar. Part 1 + Part 2 + expected vocals would have achieved potentially a beautiful song in the neighborhood of the best sides of Songs of Green Pheasant, Epic45 or Hood.

There are a few tracks which explore a more experimental, abstract, post-rock or jazzy form I can't relate to, like "Body without organs", "Imagined openings" or "Ale study"

After a few spins it becomes clear that the closest Devon Ferrucci comes to use a melody, the more beautiful his music becomes. Then, you can start to elaborate shifting emotions and an emotional progression. On "Pretending to have a heart attack" I can fill the dots and appropriate myself a personal interpretation but it is a frustrating position as this record seems to hesitate between an ambient form and a more written, shaped and personal expression without never making the choice. Another example is the deep feeling of nostalgia which invades "Serious cycling (a new yorker in winter)".  I think using ellipses in such a way, not telling everything but instead suggesting is his most precious talent, a track like "Ticky-tacky" looks like an interlude at first but I you give it the attention requested you realize how much it is moving and how it can even bring you close to tears.


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