Ashlar – Saturday Drones
Posted In: Ashlar, Ashlar - Saturday Drones, Nathan Thomas, Phil Edwards, Saturday Drones, Time Released Sound, Wil Bolton
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Much of the discussion around field recording over the past few decades has focused on their use as sonic documents or as distillations of acoustic environments, but the trend in recent years of combining found sounds with composed musical elements is in my mind often more interesting. The juxtaposition of environmental sounds such as traffic noises, rushing of wind and water, and distant conversations with tones and melodies from traditional and non-traditional musical instruments can lead to the production of a new space that is more than simply a representation of a ‘real’ geographic location, having dimensions and coordinates all of its own. This space is what Giuliana Bruno in her book “Streetwalking on a Ruined Map” refers to as a “site without geography”, and is perhaps most frequently experienced in the form of magical dream worlds that offer a means of escape from reality while nonetheless retaining a direct link to the real – in other words, as the space of cinema.
Wil Bolton and Phil Edwards’ new album “Saturday Drones” adopts this approach of combining found and composed sounds, with the effect of producing a cinematic space in sonic form. The word “cinematic” in this sense has little to do with a kind of widescreen sound that aims to mimic the immersive phenomenon of cinema through a wide tonal range and use of lush timbres. Rather, it names the space that itself echoes the yearned-for utopian islands and semi-mythical homelands towards which desire is oriented and moves incessantly towards. This is the space that activates dreams, making them seem all the more real because of its references to real space. The drones referred to in the album’s title help extend this space by mapping it onto a recurring temporality, suggesting that the elsewhere of desire evoked through the music is also an elsewhen – not located firmly in a definite past or present, nor predicted in an expected future, but roving freely between each of these points. Thus “Saturday Drones” is both a flickering slideshow of half-imagined memories and a wander through the streets of dreamed-of future towns. It can only represent these things because it references the real – both the captured reality of the field recordings and the real chiming of a real guitar.
The name of the album comes from the habit shared by two friends of spending Saturday afternoon in the pub, followed by an evening of jamming in the studio. With this habit they managed to carve out a space during the week for wandering, like Baudelaire’s flâneur, through the streets of other possible cities. Listening to their work is like losing an hour in a darkened cinema – an experience that is completely immersive and transporting, yet offers new perspectives on the world living and moving outside. “Saturday Drones” is available from Stashed Goods in standard and deluxe versions, with packaging more than capable of evoking dreamworlds of its own.
- Nathan Thomas for Fluid Radio