Got two Jeff Astin (Tricorn & Queue, the Housecraft label) solo projects here. One from his more famous Xiphiidae solo moniker and another is his first release under the Abolicao name.
I’m starting with the Abolicao tape cause I’m fucking excited about it. This is probably the best work I’ve heard from Astin. When the tape begins to roll its just guitar as far as I can tell. What I like so much is there are only a couple things going on but they’re all so important. That, and the tape as a whole exudes atmosphere. Not in the lush, “atmospheric” sense but Flowering Judas produces a direct, isolated sense of space. The first side has a couple of sections pasted together and the second section is quite nice with a hollow guitar melody and incidental noises providing tactile sensations. It approaches drone, but the music breathes a bit more than drone does cause it doesn’t stack tons of sounds on top of each to achieve a singular sound. The tape takes pleasure in split seconds of silence and miniscule but constant and vital dynamic shifts. Towards the end of Side A finds Astin building a beautiful breeze of melodic fragments before a shift to the eerier end of things just before the side’s close. The second side has more warbling tape/strings and some of the best music of the tape comes right at the beginning of this side. The bulk of the side is this one long piece as far as I can tell so, needless to say, the side’s really stunning. There’s a lovely looped resonating of bass frequencies against various forms of palpable, physical percussive techniques applied to the guitar. It’s just stirring and gorgeous——and, as I mentioned before, always alive and evolving. Seamlessly from that previous skin comes a more rhythmic incarnation. I can’t quite a tell if it is or not (I lean towards “no”) but this sounds like field recordings of a forest or something. There’s an organic nature to the sounds and their organization. This fades leaving a guitar imitating wind chimes continuing the “natural” aesthetic. Cabin Floor Esoterica is the perfect label for this to be on cause that descriptor fits the tape so well and the camping themed artwork and brown painted tape complement the sounds perfectly. Really fantastic piece of work, particularly the second side.
The CD-r is split pretty cleanly down the middle with two 12ish minute tracks. Transresonance Formation sounds denser than the Bronze Hut tape I have from last year. It’s mostly airy groans piled on top of one another but it’s possible to pick out bits of guitar and field recordings/samples in the mix. Either that or my mind is playing tricks on me. The piece moves at a nice pace, slowly but constantly. It’s almost a river ride at a theme park or something where you bob around leisurely in swampy waters but all the while there’s a mechanism keeping everything tightly together. That idea carries over into the texture of the track as well because it sounds wet but not in the submerged sense that a lot of things are. I think there has to just be recordings of flowing water at work here, because that is one of strongest flavors the piece has and I’m scratching my head how someone could pull that off without using recordings directly of water. A sprinkle of hollow chimes at the end is a nice touch as well. The second untitled track is quite straightforwardly melodic. It enters with creaking metal and a looped keyboard melody with effected guitar augmenting the track too. The piece continues to glimmer for a good five minutes but backs off a little to reveal active bass frequencies chugging along underneath. With about 4 minutes to go, the sounds fade completely and a new section starts. It creeps slows through a swampy sunrise, eventually laying down subtle but creepy drones making my bedroom feel not quite right. A misty morning dawn for sure, but a poisonous one.
The Abolicao tape is still available and it obviously comes highly recommended. Transresonance Formation is gone from Stunned as you'd expect but plenty of distros still have copies.