Music Reviews

Artist: Norman Westberg
Title: After Vacation
Format: LP
Label: Room40
With “After Vacation”, Swans guitarest Westberg has consciously moved away from performance-sourced composition and pieces with single-take improvised cores, stepping instead towards more overtly planned and mapped non-linear assemblies of sound.

However the sonic ingredients are still broadly the same- long and warm sustained effect-washed drones, plaintive guitar notes with super-long reverb meld together into a womb-like ambient that’s mostly soporific, but with the occasional hint of disquiet and dischord squeezing through on tracks like “Sliding Sledding”. The title track ends up the odd-one-out with its decidedly more conventional guitar solo work that serves as an unexpectedly busy wrap-up.

Though Westberg describes the six tracks as “stand-alone stories, rather than my usual style of bouncing conversation”, nevertheless there’s a consistency throughout that in the case of this particular collection works as a strength. You’d be hard pushed to identify softly pulsing longest track “Levitation” in a crowd, and at times this form of guitar-sourced ambient does feel a little bit ‘done’, but if you’re after something relaxing, textured and from one of the extreme edges of guitar music, this is certainly worth a late-night listen.

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