Norman Westberg, from the experimental rock band Swans, has been creating his own modestly simple but powerful solo product on the side for some time. Initially selling CDRs through Etsy, of all places, one of the earliest of these has been picked up and re-released on the Room40 label, with a new bonus track making 3.
It’s a very simple premise consisting of guitars and some effect pedals, yet the result is an extremely rich and textured synthesis of long tones and soft rhythms that sounds like it could have been crafted over many hours with many thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment. Here are some long and careful ambiences with a delicate touch.
The title track undulates initially around 60 beats per minute, the bottom end of a regular heart rate, very conducive to curling up and relaxing. As things evolve and develop, a sense of alarm slowly creeps in, so that after twenty minutes, you realise almost in awe you are now listening to a melodic siren that is failing to panic you- yet you don’t mind.
“Homeset Trunc” tenses things up a little, with choral-esque sustained tones affixed above a stepping rhythm that’s loosely 120bpm and which somehow manages to sound womb-like and industrial in equal measure. Lighter guitar patterns later on keep things comforting as the deeper rhythm ebbs away.
Bonus track “A Particular Tuesday” drops the rhythmic component almost completely in favour of clear, gently contoured and interwoven guitar tones with a glass-like fragility.
All in, it’s an exemplary exercise in simple, beautiful experimental tones that’s far more than the sum of its parts.