Chris Herbert - Mezzotint
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Chris Herbert

With a rather beat-down setup (an old PC, a minidisc recorder, and a half-broken delay pedal), Chris Herbert has created something more textural and deep than a lot of other ambient artists working with all the latest software. A collection of manipulated found-sound recordings, Mezzotint is a twelve song, hourlong journey through deep pools of sound.

On the album, seven longer tracks are separated by shorter interlude tracks, although there's absolutely nothing on the release that breaks from the heavily narcoticized depths. "Stab City" opens the release and higher ringing noises that crackle with occasional pops and hiss play out over a mid-range drone and some lurking low end rumble. "Elisa" is more successful, dropping off into a brighter pool as some near-melodies seem to creep out through the deep haze and what sounds like very minute bits of radio chatter almost materialize (but never quite do).

In general, the album pretty much continues the same sort of feel throughout, as Herbert has a good each for mixing stretched-out drones and filtered sounds while managing to bring just slightly new sounds in once in awhile. "Horse Lattitudes" arrives about halfway through the disc and takes things subterranean as the darker (yet somehow more open-sounding track) sounds like the theme for abandoned underground railways before some squiggling tones cut through the softer ending.

As with many ambient releases, Mezzotint takes awhile to sink in, as any hints of real melody are about as subtle as they can be, and rhythmically one would be hard pressed to pull anything out of the sonic morass other than heavily delayed loops that sometimes fold over on themselves and overdrive into something resembling a pulse. After a series of more plainly-titled tracks, Herbert even shows off a little sense of humor, naming one of the last songs on the album "Let's Get Boring!" Riding somewhere between the ultra-hazy ambient work of Gas and the more gritty tones of Tim Hecker, this is an enjoyable debut perfect for the changing seasons.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2006-09-21 20:38:40