Posted on Mar 9th 2012 01:19 am
PETE SWANSON/RENE HELL
Waiting For The Ladies
Shelter Press 2012
04 Tracks. 31mins02secs
Originally self-released on a vinyl run of just 250 copies in 2010, this split album from Yellow Swan’s Pete Swanson and Rene Hell is getting a welcome re-issue, again for a very limited run (520 copies this time) on Brussels-based imprint Shelter Press. Composed of four tracks, three of which the work of kosmische purveyor Rene Hell (Jeffrey Witscher), the side-long fourth, which opens the proceedings here, from Swanson. After a first salvo of typically distorted noise through which his voice occasionally filters out, Swanson settles for a much quieter set of textures and cyclical patterns which slowly gains in granularity throughout the rest of its course, but steers clear of the dense clusters of feedback he often displays on his records. Whilst not essentially devised as a rhythmic piece, the permanent clatter which occupies much of the scope here, whether clearly out in the open or partially buried under swelling layers of noise, defines an element of groove which continues to change substance, consistency and pace until the very end of the piece. Over the course of its fifteen minutes, Self-Help never ceases to morph and continually shifts from harsh noise distortion to much smoother soundscapes and back, but remains intensely focused throughout.
Articulated around a central nine-and-a-half minute long piece, bookended with two much shorter compositions, the side occupied by Rene Hell (or Hl.) offers a sharp counterpoint to Swanson’s largely abrasive textures. Recalling some of the more atmospheric moments of his Porcelain Opera album, Witscher devises here three pastoral electronic pieces which all appear partly linked to each other, if only for their particular tonal quality. Walking In Tune and Glass (Coke), the two shorter tracks, function around hectic shimmering arpeggios upon which are placed various textural components. Developing over a longer period, and going through a series of distinct phases, Bending (Voice) is a much more haunting piece, especially in its first section, where Witscher layers somber processed voices and gritty electronics. When he brings in a slow pulsating tone, these dissipate to reveal a much more streamlined synthetic core, but this continues to mutate as lighter, more fluid, textures and pulses emerge in the latter part.
Whilst in essence very different, Swanson’s epic composition and Witscher’s much more scaled down pieces work surprisingly well together, the latter three’s smooth finishing offering a contrasting flip side to the former’s inherent gritty aspect.