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Aquarelle: Sung In Broken Symmetry

img  Tobias Fischer

Aquarelle is the French term for watercolor painting. It’s a fitting stage name for Toronto-based guitarist and composer Ryan Potts, who layers acoustic and electric guitars into lush, amorphous soundscapes. For Potts’ second album, Sung In Broken Symmetry he offers four compositions/improvisations built largely on the looped sounds of boutique guitar pedals and field recordings. The result is a hazy, textured record that ebbs and flows with shoegaze-y distortion, tape hiss and faint rhythmic undertones.

Sung In Broken Symmetry opens with “With Verticals,” a gorgeous tidal wave of distortion punctuated by rhythmic stabs of acoustic guitar. As the texture thins, quiet delay-heavy counter lines emerge, layered against one another in a sort of metric modulation that makes for an ever-shifting underlying pulse. As is true with all of the pieces here, Potts takes his time letting the textures build and wane so that the music is marked by strong senses of space and organic development. “A Strange Sweet Woe” is a mesmerizing seesaw of shoegaze bliss. Drones of guitar distortion twist around the pleasing interval of a major third before a soothing backdrop of white noise. When a key change finally occurs—nearly five minutes into the piece—the texture thins to pensive piano chords and strummed acoustic guitar.

Sung In Broken Symmetry’s B-side tracks function similarly. “Origin,” the record’s least immediately accessible track, is a delicate crescendo of tape hiss underpinned by a quietly droning single chord. The composition eventually gives way to sparse guitar bends reminiscent of whale calls. “The Blue Light Was My Baby” bookends a wall of guitar distortion with introspective acoustic guitar progressions.

Despite mostly lacking the chord progressions and melodic hooks of so-called “popular music,” Sung In Broken Symmetry manages a sort of pop sensibility not far divorced from the slow builds of post-rockers like Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the flowering guitar distortion claustrophobia of My Bloody Valentine. Though propellant drums and bass don’t anchor Potts’ loops and layers, these heavily textured compositions never cease to push forward, moving between episodes of violence and serenity and ultimatly offering a lush, Impressionist sound-painting.

By Hannis Brown

Homepage: Aquarelle
Homepage: Students of Decay Records

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