Gordon Ashworth

S.T.L.A

Starting pleasantly enough, a spaghetti western type score for dilated minds, “Upbringing” hits and it’s like your life is flashed before you in a relentless multicolour collage. Thick drones disconcert at the best of times, but Gordon Ashworth, who’s behind the now retired Concern alias, cranks the dial of discontent into the red. It soon effuses happiness, a white light that chews cracks in the premonition mortar. This would seem appropriate extension of Ashworth’s black metal place in band Knelt Rote, a transcendental introspection that exudes gluey gloops of adherent mood.

“Suite For Broken Sex” is immediately gratifying to these ears, a tremolo piano pattern eschewing mere Nils Frahm-isms of the “Said And Done” style. Mixed with a live Greg Haines spirit, the notes hit are joyous when played in overlapped chords. The piece after 5 minutes disintegrates into an Eluvium-esque distorted drone wash. This provides a neat enough counterpoint to the bounding rhythm of the earlier stages, taking things down into a top-and-tailed cutting up of field recordings and hauntological forewarning. Extra warning: don’t play this at too high volume or you’ll lose the necessary detail. The closing recordings blended in signify a textural dichotomy that refuses to settle. So far so good.

“To Be The Man I Want To Be” tops the lot after this. Plucked banjo, layered and delayed with field recordings actualize a keen rhythm that never lets up. The timbre isn’t so rough-hewn that it formulates finger-cuts; rather the additional twang resplendent in the harmonies morphs a rustic effect, one that refractively assuages the place between its ultramundanity. Getting to the other side of the tracks, Matt Christensen and Six Organs Of Admittance way, is closer “Desperate And Indebted”. It becomes the best piece of the album on multiple hearings, an initially fragmented, frenetic duality of impedance and order, determination and disdain. The subtle tidal ferocity that never resolves until silence reigns at the end of the record, provides the LP with a unitary and complementary shapeliness.

You find out who’s really there for you in times of a draught. And then the whole process starts again. This temperance for moodswings doesn’t perturb Ashworth of stretching out the dissonance into flurries of soft/hard sound, an acute distinguishing factor from his contemporaries, or similar artists like newcomer Porya Hatami. He really knows how to revel in his own noise, but luckily for us it’s excellent, sought noise. This could end up being one of my LPs of the year.

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