Even though he's created some interesting and fun diversions under the name Hrvatski, Keith Fullerton Whitman has seemingly upped the ante with his music since jumping to the Kranky label several years ago. His Playthroughs album was a glimmering sheet of somewhat austere ambient music that sounded something like the aural equivalent of water vapor turning into frost. Between that album and the excellent Multiples disc from last year, he even put out a couple more experimental vinyl-only releases that found him toying even more with different styles.
The Lisbon EP finds Fullerton Whitman coming full circle, returning to the style that he used to create the Playthroughs album and extending the vision and scope of that world. Recorded live during a performance at the Galeria Ze Dos Bois (in the capital of Portugal, naturally), this single, 42-minute track is a mixture of sine-tone flickering, field-recordings, old school-synth loops, and processed guitar all run through computer patches, then re-captured and re-filtered through various microphones and small speakers placed throughout the venue.
Based on the above explanation, it seems like things could get messy, but it's a credit to Fullerton Whitman's steady hand that he keeps a nice reign on things and eases the listener in naturally. The long piece opens quiety, with almost a quarter of the track passing by in soft sine pulses and warbles before some filtered field recordings and synth buzz start to creep into the mix. By the halfway point, the piece has turned into a pulsing cloud of dense granulated overlapping tones and the result is something completely gorgeous.
In turn, the dense mass dissolves into a heavy, somewhat harsh drone before dropping off into sparse field recordings that skitter and clank and play with open spaces. Eventually, the buzzing frequencies burst back into the mix and by the end, powerful washes have piled on, turning the track into sort of a heavy Charlemagne Palestine-style timbre drone. If you found Playthroughs to be a little too uniform, Lisbon is a release that finds Whitman honing in on his powers and creating something even more engaging.