ERSTLAUB: Sleepwalking Into The Underworld (Highpoint Lowlife)


Posted on Jan 5th 2011 01:06 am

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Erstlaub: Sleepwalking Into The Underworld

Sleepwalking Into The Underworld
Highpoint Lowlife 2010
01 Track. 40mins35secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD

Scottish musician and sound artist Dave Fyans, who has been officiating as Erstlaub for over five years, returns to Highpoint Lowlife, this time with a full audio-visual project which combines a forty minute film and its accompanying soundtrack, available as a very limited DVD release. Built as one long evolutive piece, where various segments seamlessly slip into one another, their boundaries blurred beyond recognition, and ultimately resulting in one fluid narrative. Similarly, the video takes various black and white footage of bodies of water (rivers, ponds, puddles) and wooded areas, each one roughly corresponding to a defined sound set.

Fyans has worked with similarly monolithic forms in the past, carving deep introspective soundscapes from stark and arid sources, shaping them into beautiful textural pieces. Very much like was the case on Broadcasting On Ghost Frequencies (Moving Furniture, 2009) or On Becoming An Island (Highpoint Lowlife, 2007), space is intrinsically part of the overall sound contingency of the piece, but there is here an impressive density which, while already present on Broadcasting, reaches here an entirely different level. The piece opens with a simple and smooth drone, lightly polished, with a hint of white noise at the back, but this is rapidly disturbed by a bubbling form which appears to relate to running water in the video, but which could as well be the crackle of an empty radio signal or a swathe of grinding noises smoothened by layers of fog. In the next few minutes, this is submitted to an intense process of leveling and pressurization, bringing the overall piece back toward more hospitable grounds.

Whilst applied with various strength, this process very much continues throughout, at times revealing moments of deep emotional intensity as elements of almost orchestral grandeur are layered in the foreground, at others diving into rather dark and threatening territories, where corroded sounds slowly decay and contaminate healthier structures, or centred around deeply fragmented components. Although created as a unit, the music can work independently from the video, its extreme variations and continuous flow contributing to its strong evocative character. Indeed, there is enough triggers throughout to generate self-induced dream sequences, yet the added imagery is as hypnotic and enigmatic as the music itself, bringing another layer of introspection to the work.

One of the last scheduled outputs to come out of the excellent Highpoint Lowlife, which is due to shut down later on in the year, Sleepwalking Into The Underworld is yet another might fine demonstration of strong sonic processing from Erstlaub. The impressive cinematic form which has become Dave Fyans’s mode of expression, shaped into one long evolutive piece, reaches its most intense stage yet. Highly recommended.


Erstlaub | Highpoint Lowlife
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD

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