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CD Feature/ Darren Tate: "Small Worlds"

img  Tobias

With artists like Paul Bradley, Andrew Chalk, Collin Potter, Andrew Liles and Jonathan Coleclough, the UK drone scene is among the most diverse and influential in the world. In direct comparison to these names, the work of Darren Tate has sometimes been slightly overlooked. Which might have to do with the fact that he was born with the same name as a hugely succesful house-DJ, leading to confusion and – most likely – frustration. Which is a shame, as his singular style, which doesn’t simply aim to please but searches for weird angles and twisted perspectives, deserves more attention. “Small Worlds” is yet another short electronic fairy tale from the brain of a man who thinks differently.

As much as the CD carries his handwriting, however, one can not help but feel that his recent collaboration with Quiet World-founder Ian Holloway has rubbed off on this album. Holloway’s love for disturbing, suffocating atmospheres and the psychedelic touch of his music can certainly be traced back to “Small Worlds”.

Other than that, there are three distinct characteristics which define all of the tracks contained here: Firstly, detuned guitars. Or, to be more precise, guitars which are being tuned in play, leading to bizarre slide effects, pitch bending sensations and the general notion that all borders are fluent. Secondly, opaque bass resonances inside clustered clouds, which form a distant hum. As such, this isn’t even a drone album pur sang. The sustained tones either serve as a basis for thematic expansions or melt into rhythmic patterns, but are never an end in themselves.

Finally, the live element. Tate plays naive melodies on his organ, throws in an effect here and another there and the abruptness with which he introduces some of his material suggests all of this is happening in real time. This spontaneity lends “Small Worlds” an organic personality, despite the very much electronic nature of most of its sounds. In this cosmos of infinite possibilities, there are only open endings – there is no definite goal, no necessity to arrive at any given destination. Listening to the music unfold, develop and sometimes drift without external interference is what this album is about.

Subsequently, you will find no trapdoors or multiple layers here, Tate operates with a strictly limited palette and with reduced means. And yet, while listening, I was pulled into the realms of his music more and more, the sequences developping a strong magnetism and a sharply outlined mood.

While Paul Bradley aims for perfection, Andrew Chalk for purity and Liles for profundity, Darren Tate cares most about the effects of sizing the world down to a few clearly outlined parameters. Every string his finger hits, every change in the frequency of his tones suddenly takes on collossal proportions: In small worlds, small actions can have a huge impact. That is the philosphy of his work, which adds a spicy taste to the UK drone scene.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Quiet World Records
Homepage: Darren Tate

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