Almost Is Almost Good Enough (Glistening Examples, CD/DL)
From a certain vantage point New Englander Jason Lescalleet seems like an intense guy. This new recording was originally released in a limited edition of 100 hand-numbered tapes to be distributed at live performances last year, but now Almost Is Almost Good Enough gets a full release for the rest of us who may not be able to make the show. The addition to the original is track three, Every Room Is Different, running for eleven minutes and eleven seconds (the same as the purchase price, numeralogically speaking) – but I’ll get to that in a minute. I first have to comment on the wry title and Columbia Records-style spine packaging. This man has a subtle sense of humor, one that wakes you up with artwork that resembles a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox. Yes, please. The commentary on the loss of originality, our disappearing world in the face of brand-ism.
The Grind (Organ Music #4), which you can hear above, is a back alley generator, whirring away, a wall of typical sound fueled with an underbelly of intriguing difficult drone. If you pay attention you will start to hear mechanisms along the softened walls, or are the tonal shifts, or ships passing? One thing is bare, the atmosphere is laden deep with a foggy mystery from this underappreciated Mainer who’s put out countless recordings since the turn of the millennium. One can truly appreciate the engagement and sculpting of noise herein, and this flows into Flywheel (2004), a subtle drone ambient work that reminds me of being out at sea on a cold damp evening. His use of muted bells and bumpy secretive effects processes are as calming as they are elusive.
Every Room Is Different begins with a announcer offering instructions to a group presumably about to go through a maze of rooms filled with frequencies, not unlike cast members at a Disney park fun ride. With echo and distended sound waves we enter into a chamber of an altogether different kind, however. As I listen I realize that hearing this live, in a contained dark space, fully amplified would send the deep listening experience off the rails. Although its missing that in-situ direct experience I can almost feel the vibration of fumes and exhaust in a deep muddied drone din, the aftermath of being there, with errant micro crackle and weighty density. And just when you weren’t sure of the present space incoming is This Is Not The End to assure the listener that there may be some semblance of a future after all. An ambiguous French speaker narrates the beginning and ending with a slightly slowed voice, and for the first time on the record a synth melody rises like a foreboding church organ, though the effect is like being wrapped in thick cotton batting – muted from outside forces. It’s a warped rhythm, but comes off with a slightly off-center sense of beauty.
SENTIMENTALLY SUBCONSCIOUS: And for the twenty-minute finale Lescaleet brings the scorching In My Time of Dying It’s Nobody’s Fault but Mine to the table. Literally. Though in sharp contract he manages to weave in field recordings of running water, perhaps a stream, to the various crunching and airy sound effects. A hollow and ominous layer of noise hovers like a looped jet above, and the mix is seamless as if I’m sitting on the edge of a dock, waiting for a ferry to arrive. It’s all so fleeting and impractical, but the aural cinema is quite tangible, you are right there in that spot where the artist once was, surrounded by solitude. The low end is so low at your feet, you can feel the trembling floor (especially if you have a good woofer). The volume grows and the chord progression is shifted dramatically about three quarters in, and yet the snap of a branch brings you right back from the bright specter of pitch and circumstance. In the end you are left with minimal hiss and a repeated breath that disappears into the right channel, fading from earshot.