Music Reviews

Artist: DunningWebsterUnderwood
Title: Bleed
Format: CD
Label: ADAADAT (@)
Rated: *****
"Bleed" is the debut release from DunningWebsterUnderwood, an improv trio that staves off a so-called traditional treatment of their instruments (tuba, baritone saxophone, turnable) as much as possible. Throughout the album, tonality routinely functions merely as an agent to create spontaneous, discontinuous, noise-like sounds. To put it another way, during melodic and harmonic moments, the sounds are more akin to drone metal without any of the typically-associated instrumentation (distorted guitar/s and drums).

The soundstage throughout the LP is similar: Underwood's tuba is left, Webster's bari is right, and Dunning's turntable and effects down-the-middle. With only three players, there is great capacity for sonic exploration, and the spatial configuration allows for maximum definition. Lengthy album opener 'Dustbleedblip' is beautifully malicious with swelling simultaneous drones in both channels whilst the edginess stems from the turntable's static, vinyl-crackle-like roar, which almost acts as a distorted guitar of sorts. It's immediately followed by the terse 'Lavaeclustercore' complete with horse lip flap sax and turntable swells similar to that of ocean waves breaking. This is surely next-level unconventional use of instrumentation, and a fair amount of it is both intriguing and palatable.

It's no surprise that I gravitate toward the longer tracks on "Bleed". They sound perhaps a bit more thought-out, and also tinker with intonation and harmonic-minor movement. At nearly six minutes, 'Tarnlavadust' is probably my favorite. Along with sustained droning, Dunning's incorporation of what sounds like a field recording of many voices in a hall of sorts is perfect. The listener is unable to discern what is being uttered, the result of which is one of my favorite types of audible subterfuge: a sound that beckons the listener closer to decipher the message, but there is none.

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