Soundtrack for Dislocation: a beautiful and beguiling album … that’s also very moody and intense

Matt Shoemaker, Soundtrack for Dislocation, Elevator Bath, CD eeaoa034 (2010)

A front cover sleeve of radiant daylight striking a forest looks very cheering but it certainly belies the nature of the music on this, drone artist Matt Shoemaker’s first full-length recording for label Elevator Bath back in 2010. The music may have been recorded nearly a decade ago but it still sounds very fresh and even raw, and is just as edgy and ambivalent in mood as it was back then.

“Arrival” is a darkly enigmatic being of sinewy and sinuous wavering drone yawns floating as it were in a deep darkling liquid medium, like a whale swimming slowly through the sea and emitting lowing noises far through the water to find an unseen mate. While the sonic range here is narrow, the layers of drone are continually moving and mutating to delineate a protean entity whose dimensions defy capture and understanding. “Fuse Error Phantom” is quieter and initially better behaved but it has many surprises in store and its various vibrations, piercing calls and throbbing textures turn out to be as insistent and needling as well. As the track evolves, an image of a giant machine coming together from animated parts forms and the creation seems to rise in the air and float serenely into the stratosphere.

The quietest track, “Circulation within the Elemental Drift”, may perhaps be the most intense and disquieting of the three: its focus seems to be very narrow and concentrated, but on what, that depends on the individual listener and what s/he brings in the way of imagination and experience to the track. As with previous tracks, the throbbing and pulsating sounds suggest something at once organic and yet not completely so. Phantoms and beings from other dimensions sigh and beckon through invisible barriers that stop them from entering our universe but their siren calls are seductive and enticing.

Right across this album is music that is richly layered with texture and hidden, ambiguous meaning that may send listeners off in individual directions to find out what the recordings are all about. This is all so beautiful and so beguiling yet so unsettling. This is one album that will repay repeated hearings, with each and every session revealing more mystery.

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