Brand new music has recently surfaced on Preservation – Dusted Lux’s Neverended, and Contemplation by Günter Schlienz. The standard of music is very high, and that’s the only thing linking the two. Stylistically, they are miles apart.
Günter Schlienz’s Contemplation rides waves of synth like a surfer on a board. Silver fountains fizz with sweet and sour melodies, jetting out of the experimental music. Sometimes there is a burst, a quick melodic phrase, but the music can make space for a pause, too, such as a slow-burning bassline or an inquisitive, snaking line of synth. Drums are absent, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a pulse. The rhythms eventually emerge from the synth, but they start off in a deeper place. You can feel the beat gliding alongside the melody; silky synth cobwebs from an inhuman source, forming complete, perfect circles and spellbinding, symmetrical shapes, like a crop circle at first light.
Initially, Schlienz’s synths come across as eerie. They hover around, and it’s difficult to make sense of their movement, let alone their intent. For the most part, they feel like amicable visitors, very much like the little machines in the film *batteries not included – they gently explore the world around them without ever intruding. Schlienz’s music is calm, peaceable and friendly, which can’t exactly be said about Europe or its current climate. It’s hard to see just where the continent is headed after the recent elections brought back an intolerance that should have been burned long ago: hatred and mistrust, peeking through a re-opened wound. Music, though, is all about love. The German musician slowly builds up his transcendent synth temples brick by brick (or note by note) with loving care. Leisurely pitch-bends, shining, melodic gems and the gentle bass modulation that occasionally leans to one side are all pathways to a better place.
The cymbals kiss, peeling back a lush, synth-laden landscape. Rhythms emerge, laying cocooned inside the synths, rebounding off the walls and in turn producing a soft syncopation between the notes. It’s the music of freedom, the Statue of Liberty in musical form, a place where the rainbow is celebrated for all its outrageous beauty, its diverse, streaming flares that shoot out bright hues.
The synths do turn darker – we tune into some kind of static-interrupted communication on ‘Waning’. They then start to oscillate, wavering with unpredictable lines. A cello creeps in, matching the synth in its pitch, and the natural, wooden tone contrasts sharply with the electronic timbre. The presence of a piano on the track ‘Home’ is a refreshing change – the synths are cosy, but the piano is just as important, is given just as much airtime. The synth has been lowered, defying gravity with its weightless bass. The piano plays a couple of repeated notes and then reverses, taking the place of the earlier synth with its newly constructed, rhythmic chains that link one note to another. It’s an ambient track without the cliché, and it doesn’t become mushy or pretentious. The more you listen to Contemplation, the more it comes across as an ambient album. It is largely electronic, but there are silent pockets where nature has taken hold. Snaking vines hold onto the melodic lines with a tight grip. The sedate, lazy buzz of insects have time for contemplation, too, breathing in the late day oxygen.
Neverended is the debut album from Dusted Lux. Connecticut’s Lee Camfield uses his guitar as a flashlight to see through the rolling sheets of fog, lighting gently upon a vague, often sobering place. Dusted Lux takes us to a silent forest, dusting his music with some late night magic. ‘Sun Dogs’ burns steadily with a glimmer of late light, where rolling drums and static-crackling interludes come out to play. A lower, growling drone seems intent on stalking the guitar and its happy-go-lucky melody, a little ray of sunshine in the unclear night. The notes are separated from each other, with noticeable gaps of silence in between. In the silent void the drone picks up the grit, shovelling it together and then flinging it in front of the clean notes, roughing up the sound with its rolling tonal disturbance.
Neverended is foggy and vague, shrouded somewhere out of sight; acoustic folk from another dimension. Camfield’s music is a curious thing, like a shipwreck on a ghostly shore, its stranded sails torn and its mast broken. The introverted vocals and the guitar’s finger-plucked melodies call you from afar, as alluring as a siren’s song. You’re inquisitive, you want to get closer. ‘What Is True’ is a haunting, ten minute track that slowly brings in the acoustic guitar and some buried vocals. The sound of a distant shore, indistinct in its creased tone, gives way to the sand-covered vocals. Crimped timbres choke on their narrow, lo-fi textures and the thumping beat comes to bury them, pushing the beat into the haze as if it were wood being nailed to the skeleton of a coffin.
The arpeggios spread their wings with their wide, open intervals. This is ‘A Horse in the Orchard’, and the guitar is responsible for the rural tone; the green emeralds masquerade as open fields, the sparse arrangement the countryside. From above, the music looks like the well-trodden, traditional terrain – the classic sound of an acoustic guitar and a songwriter – and the locals certainly speak the language. It is, however, just an illusion, and it isn’t long before the strange, surreal dimension comes back in on its grey, dank clouds, carrying with it a lo-fi, dirty haze that’s glorious for its grit.
Airy electronic bubbles send out their echoing loops like a deep sea sonar signal, but they aren’t as prevalent as the guitar or the vocal. Hard hitting, crunchy drums try to disperse and do away with the vibe of rusty folk, but they add a power that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Dusted Lux’s music is a little ‘out there’, which is one of the reasons why we love it. But he also has a real love for acoustically driven folk music, and this is ultimately what stands at the heart of Neverended.