Blake Gibson & Robert Davies "Quiraing" CD
Edmonton based Canadian dronescaper Blake Gibson, rather known under his moniker Broken Harbour, has 3 solo albums to his credit, while Robert Davies from Ithaca, New York, a master od drone subtlety, is one of the familiar names constantly releasing through Canadian DataObscura label. His discography features 15 solo albums (one on Stefano Musso's Hic Sunt Leones label) plus 5 albums as The Winterhouse (with DataObscura's Anthony Paul Kerby/APK). Now, Blake & Robert have joined their drift routines for "Quiraing" album, which was released at January 25th, 2015 on Databloem. It looks like this Dutch label has resurrected their Practising Nature packaging concept featuring slim maxi single jewel case with a j-card, but this time with a glass mastered CD. Stunning picture of Quiraing by Ian Cameron, showcasing part of this distinctive landscape in Scotland, formed by a great series of landslips, immediately sets the atmosphere both these dronesculptors are ready to ignite.
So no surprisingly, it's the title piece, 11-minute "Quiraing", that unfolds this journey. Deep drone scenario immediately invades the listening environment. Spiraling monochromatism secures its dominant mindscaping position, while organic traceries ephemerally keep on emerging. Enigmatically growling sounds sneak in as well, but alternate with occasionally climaxing dissonances, which awake even some phantoms. The drone consonance is fully blossoming, a pure magic, just like the awe-inspiring green slopes of Quiraing. Well-done, guys!!! "Seaside Surreal" delves into quieter dreamy terrains, but as much intense as the title piece. Expanding into magnificently celestial infinity, where utterly graceful choir-like drones are soothingly nuanced, crescendoed and alleviated with intangibly crystalline ear-tickling tinkles. Nearly 7 minutes long only, but grandiosely transporting listening experience transmuting into a pure sonic evanescence!!! More please!!! The next track, "Moorlands", clocking over 13 minutes in length, safely carries on the extensive waves of dronescaping magic riding atop of moorland habitats and collaterally drifts across these fascinating sceneries. Peter James is credited in this composition for additional mixing (he works with several Relaxed Machinery artists, which include also Broken Harbour and mastering of "The Geometry Of Shadows" album). "Stone Circle" unfolds with perplexing groans, while the drone slowly increases into more monumental magnitudes and distant chimes keep on swirling and intensifying. Further helixing tensions surreptitiously pervade through the surface of mind-bending texture along with scanty hissy wrapper, when fading away. "Megalith" reveals with static drone, transcendentally oscillating and authenticating its title, intermittently commingled with subtle sibilances. "Lochs Obscured" ventures into tenebrous terrains, weirdly circling and magnifying, with voice transmissions surrogated by lush biotic recordings and mesmeric rumblings. Another mind-blower!!! "Sunshowers" enter absolutely clandestine, when the drone eeriness is still bridged with piercing organic coils, but warmer, choir-driven drifts inconspicuously emanate and splendidly interact with everlasting sharpened clutters. Actually another almost undetected transition follows after about 5 minutes, when eddying tension calmly metamorphoses into soothing sounds of rain and storm, while the surrounding arrangements dissolve. Thus obviously the closing piece is entitled "Only Rain", containing the lone field recordings, which bring this incredibly immersing album into its finale.
"Quiraing" is undoubtedly a truly worthwhile collaborative effort of two highly crafted soundspainters with own distinctive styles, who have triumphantly accomplished their mission to pay a monumental, 70-minute sonic tribute to one of the breathtaking sites around the world. In case you are not familiar yet with the discographies of these two gifted artists, it's time to explore their uniquely challenging and strikingly gratifying drone-based endeavours. Normally, I would conclude my review with making sure to follow both these soundsculptors, unfortunately, about one week ago Blake Gibson has announced quitting all his musical activities, because according to his words, his life has become complicated over the last few years. I was all the time deeply honored to journey with Broken Harbour and I will always hope for the rebirth of this project. All the best, Blake, I will keep my fingers crossed for you!!! When it goes to Robert Davies, among others don't miss his latest "Nightshade" album, which was released at the end of 2014 on DataObscura. "Quiraing" is a must-have CD for each dedicated connoisseur of deep drone adventuring!!!
Richard Gürtler (Apr 12, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)