Distant Fires Burning | For The Love Of…
Audiobulb Records (CS/DL)
Review by Darren McClure
The fourth album from this ambient project by Gert De Meester finds the artist stretching his processing skills into interesting territories. His background as the bassist in bands assists in the direction of Distant Fires Burning, focused as it is on the sounds of the Fender Jazz Bass. The bass guitar isn’t a common instrument adapted to experimental drone music, the only band I can think of that has put it to the fore is the British group Rothko, who use the low tones to paint sonic vistas as minimal as their namesake.
De Meester’s use of the bass often veers into these widescreen ambient soundscapes, but also uses the plucked strings to generate rhythms. Computer processing is evident on this recording, with granular textures and delays affecting notes and strums.
This album is a lengthy release, totaling over 2 hours of music, the second hour containing a collection of remixes. First track K & J begins proceedings with slow washes of ambient drone before a cut-up melody makes itself known. The bass is much more prominent in its original form in the following piece, I Would Move, which hammers out a rhythm that sometimes feels a little too heavy at times, but resolves itself towards the end of the track as those warm washes regain prominence.
Mountain makes use of these bass harmonies with much more success, achieving an emotional punch as the track progresses and acts very much as a standout track in this collection. Each Day closes out the album with a beautiful, contemplative piece of ambience. Low, slow thrums of bass are left to fade out, each one fizzled with little glitches as it expires. Tape hiss, and reverb tones spray off field recordings that underlay the track and are allowed much more to the fore as time goes by.
Released on the Audiobulb label, this album reflects the ethos of that imprint, to explore sounds and enjoy the process of discovery. Possibly that’s the reason De Meester named this work the way he did. There is a sense of love in the crafting here, and a sense of communion with the instrument of his choice.