Anjou cover painting of in park dressed in old-fashioned clothes

A modulated, disintegrating-down-a-droney-chasm note is the first thing heard. This depressed note is augmented by washes of delayed water sounds, which then proceed to drop out in favour of microtonal variations. They return, again, then one looks at the title: “Lamptest”. Seemingly fitting — an electrical surge put to music. The slow, interrupted build careens into synthesiser diopsy. This trend recurs throughout the whole album.

Anjou is the self-titled project by Robert Donne and Mark Nelson of ambient electronica stalwarts Labradford. Nelson formed Labradford in the early 90s and Pan American is his lauded solo project. Donne released an LP with Adam Wiltzie of Stars Of The Lid among other fine achievements. Together they present smoky resonances propelled by guest percussion from Steven Hess (who has collaborated with Fennesz, Pan American, and many others). “Sighting”, the second track on the Anjou LP, melds all the aforementioned players’ skills into a portentous melange laden with doomy electronic drones.

“Specimen Question” is where the record begins to lighten up and implant transcendental textures that introspect on themselves and then gently erupt into medium-strength blasts. The clattering and Earth’s-inner-crust-scraping of drums against drones on “Readings”, on the other hand, almost sounds like it was recorded in the depths of the planet. The record is ultimately weighted (and weighed down) by its melancholy.

“Anjou” works best as an exercise in deconstructing a centrepiece by overlaying various timbres. This creates a fragmentary and quizzical counterpoint dynamic to the music, such as the Jesu-meets-Grouper infra-violence of “Inclosed”, or the distanced BJ Nilsen-isms of “Fieldwork”. This reshaping of experimental sonic art touchstones places the listener in a tranquilised aural infrastructure based more on tone than on rhythm or pulse.


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