Brian McBride is one half of the duo Stars Of The Lid, who have put together some of my favorite drone music ever with Avec Laudenum and The Tired Sounds Of... Their music inhabits a strange world where classical music turns to goo and melts with drifting guitars in a way that seems to cover my head like a fuzzy blanket on a cold day. Last year, the other half of the duo (Adam Wiltzie) released his first solo effort as The Dead Texan, and now McBride is up with a release created over the course of the last four years, mainly on an ASP X keyboard sampler.
The creation instrument is interesting to note, because like the work of Stars Of The Lid, it has things in common with other work in similar genres, yet inhabits a slightly unique world. With the ASR X, McBride sampled everything from room noise to stringed instruments to vocals and harmonica, then played those sounds and layered them, creating an album that sounds like a unique mutation of his work with Stars Of The Lid. As with the work of his other group, it's an album that needs to be listened to with headphones (or at least in a certain mindset) to appreciate fully.
This isn't music to exercise to (obviously), or even probably cook to, although it does make an amazing accompaniment to winding down and relaxing. It opens with "Overture (For Other Halfs)" and by blending layers of strings and field recordings, the track recalls the amazing work by Gavin Bryars on The Sinking Of The Titanic. From there, "Piano ABG" mixes quiet piano melodies and backwards swirls of other instrumentation while soft static pops and hiss coats everything in a soft haze and "Prelude" sounds like a haunting and dry guitar being played on a keyboard (which is probably what it is), and the effect is enchanting.
When McBride takes on a slightly more structured route, he's still successful, and "Our Last Moment In Song" is easily one of the best tracks on the entire release. With soft white noise, actual guitar, and layered male-female vocals, the slowly building track sounds a bit like Labradford crossed with This Mortal Coil. On "Retenir," McBride conjures up a pulsing world of what sounds like manipulated strings, harmonica, and low end found sound rumbles that sounds like something that needs to be played at the end of man.