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CD Feature/ David Wells: "op.2"

img  Tobias

The genre of drone music is a small and concise one, marked by continuation rather than change. So when the small and concise group of journalists in this field remarked that David Wells wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with “op.2”, this hardly raised an eyebrow – after all, who was? Possibly the subtle nature of this work has lulled some listeners to sleep or maybe it’s just me, but I strongly disagree. Far from staying on the same old roads, Wells has had the courage of homing on unexplored horizons, while at the same time being enough of a traditionalist to lend the experience a comfortably familiar feeling. This CD has something which quite a few colleagues lack: A recognisable handwriting.

If you do want to compare it to something, you’ll have to revert to “Memorias Extranjeras”, the latest album by Paul Bradley – who put Wells in the limelight for the first time by releasing the “2.1” EP on his Twenty Hertz label. Both break up the solid rock of sound by subjecting their drones, which by their very nature aim for the infinite, to an evolutionary process. Or, to put it slightly less academic, the music no longer restricts itself to sculpting and modelling a single sound source, but presents us with various themes flowing in- and out of each other and even allowing for drastic mood swings and radical breaks. The aforementioned “2.1.”, which opens David’s first full-length effort, is a perfect example, with a glistening cymbal introduction transfixed by a monstrous subsonic bass, leading into successions of emotional sketches. The sounds of a gurgling fountain cuts the track in half, leading into a meditative trance state and finally a tender, otherwordly beach scene. On “2.3”, the listener finds himself on a moonlit meadow in the middle of the woods, the wind mysteriously rustling in the trees and a harmonic shimmer so quiet that you dare not move. As the moment fades, everything dies into a transcendent whisper, an almost inaudible aural ghost light. It is only in the thirty minutes of the central “2.2” that Wells operates in well-known territory: A single tone, pulsating in strechted-out oscillations, gaining in volume and spectral richness, then falling back into silence. Here, he is close to Bradley’s older work, with a piercing, yet smooth and polished sonority reminscent of a Tambura. Sandwhiched in between the other two tracks, however, the track gains a different quality, functioning as a bridge between the eclectic beginning and the ethereal end.

The means have stayed the same, therefore, but the creative mind has once again changed our perception. “op.2” is subsequently neither going to shock nor bore you. Its deepness derives not from minutely massaging the same muscle in an endless loop, but from locking the listener in a groove of interconnected images. Admittedly, that may be too little to claim that David Wells has reinvented the wheel. But it is enough to constitute a new school of drone music.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: David Wells

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