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CD Feature/ Dual: "Tocsin"

img  Tobias

Many drone artists feel kind of uncomfortable being shifted off into the Ambient corner. Not so Colin Bradley, who either as a soloist or in collaboration with various colleagues makes up Dual. Which has less to do with an imaginary allegiance with atmospheric sounds designed to pleasantly fill your room, but more with his vision of Ambient, which bypasses textbooks and substiturs their defnition with a music of open aims intended to make listeners think about the interaction between composition and spacial factors, to allow the mind to drift without loosing cerebral contact completely and to construct flowing textures made up of different colours and temperatures. All of these aspects are present on “tocsin” to varying degrees, but the most surprising quality of this album has got to be located somewhere else: It has an almost confrontational character.

This doesn’t sound all that spectacular in the first place. After all, many Dark Ambient releases also convey a cold and eerie feeling of constant suspense and asthmatic tension. And yet, Bradley is not out to merely spook his audience or to keep them gasping for air during an ill-tempered baptism – no, he really wants to jump into their face, make them fully experience the alien nature of his drastic sounds and to rub the razor-blade leaves of his rampant mind plants over innocent tongues and ears. You have to listen to “tocsin” loud or else its impact will be lost on you, but if you do, you’re in for a remarkable ride, akin to the ones you had as a child in a tunnel of horror. Divided into six parts, this voyage takes fifty minutes, which fly by like the meandering halucinations of a feverish nightmare on acid. Already in Part 1, heavy sheets of abrasive noise phase in and out like laser photons in slow motion or a children’s choir caught inside a black hole, ending either in a sustained scream or a fulminant feedback frolic, while stoic drums poundings and a irredescent blip convey the feeling of a cosmic jam session. Then the aural equivalent of a TV test pattern in High Definition sucks you in, while a mutilated bass drum stumbles in spasms across the energy fields of a pitch black canyon – a picture of madening intensity. And in the final chapter, Bradley dives headlong into an ecstatic frenzy dominated by tortured screams, moaning metal, interleaving layers of irregularly breathing voices and a pattern of buzzing and clicking dots. Amidst it all, there is plenty of room for beauty – especially the shorter pieces, with its silent pads and otherwordly rhytms, its industrial midnight jazz-dub fantasies and especially their rapidly changing moods bring out the feminin side of this singular world.

The latter can not be stressed enough, for even though the wonderful voyages of many drone artists gain their power exactly from penetrating the same nerve in endless cycle, it is refreshing to hear an album which is capable of both moving you and shaking you up. And there is more: Everything around you looks different when seen through the lense of “tocsin” and in this respect it is Ambient in the most direct way. Turning its volume down  to the point that you won’t hear it anymore (as Brian Eno suggested) can not be advised, though: You better know, where the danger’s coming from.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Mystery Sea Records
Homepage: Colin Bradley / Dual
Homepage: Colin Bradley / Dual at MySpace

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