Dragon’s Eye is a label with ever increasing scope and ambition, and this new series of works entitled Pairings explores an established formula, by combining traditional instrumentation with laptop, and digital processing. The Seattle-based label has settled into a comfortable niche, releasing material by close friends and associates whose work shares similar spirit, if not methodology.
The hybrid Pairings that emerge from Novak’s laptop and Manning’s guitar assemblages are delicate scrolls of ambience, that effortlessly unfurl, bearing the listener on warm, soporific waves, slender tendrils of tone that shimmer and cascade. This is auditory anaesthetic, a tonal balm that cleanses the spirit, and activates the mind of a receptive listener. After the initial washes of the first two tracks, the third piece (Pairing 2 , part 1) is quietly epic, almost filmic in quality, as wave after wave of glistening guitar, crashes over a tonal backdrop, it resembles Fennesz, or Herve Boghossian with its filigree textures, and understated charm. Throughout, I am reminded of Durutti Column, circa “LC”, as the reverb-drenched guitar illicits powerful and evocative emotional sequences, gently building emotional intensity, and tension, which explodes into finely wrought glissandi, that gradually erode and fizzle into overdriven digital noughts and ones. At first impression, this is not an overtly ground-breaking collection of works, but as the album approaches its finale, the luscious ambience is subtly overwritten with more exploratory techniques, and at the “sweet spot”, the interface of chaos and equilibrium, we are treated to some very special moments, that most likely blossomed free of human intervention..once again lapsing into Fennesz – tinted territory, but all the more interesting for that. More of the same please. I look forward to the next installment. BGN