AQUARELLE: Slow Circles (Rest + Noise Records)


Posted on Apr 27th 2010 10:17 pm

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Aquarelle: Slow Circles

Slow Circles
Rest + Noise Records 2010
05 Tracks. 44mins46secs

Amazon UK: CD US: CD

Aquarelle is the solo project of Minnesota-based experimental guitarist and sound artist Ryan Potts. The first release on newly-formed artisanal imprint Rest + Noise, based in St Paul, Minnesota, which Potts partly runs, Slow Circles follows a series of CDR releases. The fruit of three years of work and rework, this album collects just five tracks of minimal drone-like soundscapes, peppered with delicate acoustic motifs and ligthly abrasive electronic textures. While fairly minimal in format, Potts’s compositions are made from complex layers of acoustic and electric guitars, processed and shaped into impressionist pastoral pieces. This creates an interesting contrast all throughout Slow Circles and gives it a very particular tone, away from more common electro-acoustic works. Potts pays great attention to the smallest details, carefully placing the tiniest speck of sound into the mix to give a particular point a density that was not there a moment before, yet he never loses sight of the bigger picture, keeping his overall sequences totally pure.

Potts uses a series of peaceful drones as the basis for his compositions, some warm and graceful (A Good Egg, In Days Of Rust), some colder and more distorted (Brill, Everything Changes Into Itself, Clementine), upon which he places particles and debris of processed instruments and electronic textures. There is often very little to retain the attention, yet what is there appears at once so fragile and vivid than anything more would compromise the fragile balance of the record. Opening the set is the wonderful Brill, which opens with a stone cold strummed guitar chord and triggers a mid-range frequency drone, left in suspension for over forty seconds as a wave of statics comes into focus in the back. All the elements are set for the track to develop, its occasional brushes of strummed guitars cutting through restrained distortions and electronics. Everything Changes Into Itself and Clementine are made from a similar mix of processed sounds and interferences, but while the formed expands over eleven and a half minutes, imperceptibly gaining intensity up to its mid-point, when fragments of melody start to emerge and scintillate over the second half of the piece, the latter is propelled by increasingly dense waves of guitars which evoke simultaneously the acrid electric stabs of My Bloody Valentine and the intensely processed guitar layers of Fennesz.

In comparison, A Good Egg and In Days Of Rust are much more subtle and delicate. The former is a short pastoral piece where Potts creates a wonderfully warm and smooth drone and places the distorted sound of waves crashing on a beach, or statics made to sound like waves, far in the distance. Clocking at close to fifteen minutes twenty seconds, In Days Of Rust is by far the longest piece here, and it is also the most contrasted. Rising from a dreamy first half into a dryer second, sustained by more crashing waves of statics, into which are woven tiny particles of sound which only come to attention for a fraction of time. The evocative strums of guitar that propped up Brill also find a place in the last section of In Days Of Rust, as does a solitary piano, giving the end part of the piece, and of the album, a uniquely beautiful and elegant tone.

Released in a run of just fiive hundred copies, Slow Circles comes in a tracing paper sleeve, with all artwork handmade. The music created by Ryan Potts feels equally as artisanal and fragile. The delicate way his music unfolds is particularly effective, its soft brushes giving it an ethereal touch, tempered by the delicate grain of its coarser components.


Aquarelle (MySpace) | Rest + Noise Records
Amazon UK: CD US: CD Smallfish: CD

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Comments (2)

2 Responses to “AQUARELLE: Slow Circles (Rest + Noise Records)”

  1. Peteron 28 Apr 2010 at 12:18 am

    Crazy…right from my home town. Thanks for the tip!

  2. themilkmanon 28 Apr 2010 at 12:22 am

    Oh yes, the Twin Cities… your neck of the woods. Ryan’s doing you proud I’d say.