Vales – ‘Iridial’ [Review]

Like a capsule from a very recent era, the collection ‘Iridial’ captures so much symbolic of the CDr boom circa 2007– and ironically from a project that’s never before appeared on CDr.  That is, Vales, the youthful project of 2AM Tapes proprietor Dave Doyen, is here not archived but (self-) monumentalized with a four-disc collection of drones, hand-painted discs in an over-sized clamshell.  Pegged directly to the analog synthesizer manufactured by Casper Electronics, each disc-long track exploits the inner space of the bedroom composer and the organic induction/deduction dialectic of the analog consumer format.  To put the sound in quick relief, these are standard drones (that is not to say substandard, or redundant – which would take a whole treatise on “drone” as a form) which err to the bright, granular, wall-to-wall, and melodramatic practitioners from Emaciator, Taiga Remains, Daniel Menche, and the like.  Each disc contains a number of significant transitions, making each a listening experience more engaged than not – more to the front of the mind’s ear than the back, so to speak – and without being reduced to a demo collection for the Drone Lab technology, exhibit their own identities as discs: yes, there are the gaps and peaks to disc two’s noise which distinguishes it from the throbbing abandon-ship of disc three – more like a Pulse Emitter adventure than the abstracts of disc one’s wall sound – and still then unique from the tenacious aggregate drone of four, which recalls the monoliths found lurking around Basses Frequencies.

Yet despite all this (and despite the fact that it is this sound which truly matters in the end), what bares the most conversation is the medium which Doyen and his contemporaries have chosen for presentation: seeking to transport these long-forms, it’s less certain that he’s seeking to wall them in with the 5” circumference of the CDr; if there wasn’t such a smart distinction between the pieces, it would be ridiculous to even claim an edge to one, let alone how to add a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th cut.  The distinction between that bygone era of CDrs and now is the imposition, pragmatic to a fault, of the cloud server and applications such as Bandcamp for supporting what are surely thousands of like-minded drone technicians (as sourced to something like youarenowlisteningto___), not to mention the back-catalogs uploaded (some say “stockpiled”) by the minute.  There is a challenge in here somewhere, which fashions the eternal music of a drone and volunteers it for a 78 minute or less life-course (we are also post-CD changer).  What are we listening to, and what are we listening for?  Is it really not what we’re looking at?  Or what we’re giving each other?  And like any true challenge, there’s a good chance we won’t win this one no matter how good it sounds in the end.  Total running time is just shy of 3 hours, though some copies come with a bonus disc of re-released material from the tapes ‘Sun Sick’ and ‘Fever Monument’.  Edition of 48 copies.


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