Music Reviews

Artist: The Sand Rays (@)
Title: Remembered Vol. 1 (EPs Gathered Together)
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
The Sand Rays is a project of Canadian Jim DeJong, formerly The Infant Cycle, among other activities. I remember reviewing an Infant Cycle work ('Plays Fender Bass Guitars And Bird Cages Of Unknown Origin, Exclusively') back in 2011 in an overly lengthy essay about avant-garde and esoteric music which I will not emulate here. 'Remembered Vol. 1' is as it states in the subtitle, EPs Gathered Together from DeJong's EP releases on his small label The Ceiling, in tiny editions. After the dissolution of The Infant Cycle, DeJong received an offer to score a feature film for which he produced a number of flexible basic tracks. Unfortunately, the film ended up being scrapped, but since the music was already made, The Sand Rays was born as its vehicle. This CD consists of 8 tracks of varying lengths (the shortest being 0:10; the longest 20:44) which are primarily but not exclusively drones. It also sounds somewhat industrial. You might be inclined to think of it as minimal and static in nature, and to some degree you'd be right, but not totally. "Senor Trainwhistle" which opens this compilation does kind of sound like a sustained train whistle blast that just will not stop, but there is an ever-shifting dimension to it in the variation of harmonics. At different points the perspective changes and higher, lower, or mid frequencies are emphasized. "Pingray 2" is looped, glitchy noise formed into a lopsided rhythm over various harmonic drones. "Escalator Attendant" (great title!) has trembly, shimmery, echoed harmonics into drone that morphs over time into something nearly completely different while still maintaining its original feel. "That Blurry Tunnel There" is a pretty accurate title for the description of this track. A somewhat hazy hollow tone with little variation comprises the bulk of it. Perhaps the most bizarre title on this CD is "Something Sure Smells Fishy About Sandra Y.!" It begins with some deep chambered sustained metal grating and then something that sounds like a sander on the walls. It's real deep shaft stuff. "Pongray" is as much fun as a pair of waterlogged tennis shoes bouncing around in a dysfunctional dryer. The longest track, "A Mysterious Disc 1" features a richly textured metallic drone that changes shape, size, position, with only minor incidents over the course of its duration. Then, all of a sudden it just stops dead, and a newer, more abrasive drone issues forth until it is eclipsed by other glitchy noise loops, some backwards, and eventually that drone ceases while the loops carry on. A lower tone drone emerges carrying it all out to the vast cosmos. Final track "A Mysterious Disc 2" is completely submerged drone sounding likely barely anything at all in ten seconds. The sounds used in these recordings emanate from an assortment of instruments and sound makers including carved (record) runout grooves, bass guitar, bird cages, shortwave radio, and more. Creative? Definitely. Rewarding? Sometimes. Something for the drone/noise aficionado and avant-garde minimalist enthusiast, but not many others. Limited to 300 numbered copies.

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