Raglani - Of Sirens Born
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Of Sirens Born

Joseph Raglani has been releasing LPs, tapes, and CDRs both on his own small label and several others now for the past several years. Combining analog synth, and a load of other electronic instruments with live instrumentation like guitar, accordion, and vocals, he's managed to create a deep, droning world of sound that manages to have a bit more of a human feel than a lot of the power ambient electronics crowd.

One of the interesting things that Raglani doesn't do is fall into the glitch and / or processing aesthetic. Although he certainly uses his fair amount of filtering (mainly distortion and reverb), his work is more slowly-evolving and less fractured than that of his peers. It has more in common with the rolling waves of sound that dark kraut artists like Cluster put out at times, with a slightly noisier edge. On Sirens Born, five tracks run just over thirty-five minutes, and every single piece is a slow burn of subtle layering.

"Rivers In" opens the release with overlapping synth, string, and accordion tones that slowly fold over one another with increasingly frayed pulses. It's the sort of track that definitely feels like it's leading into something and is followed by two long album centerpieces. "The Promise of Wood And Water" comes directly afterwards, and in just over ten minutes finds Raglani blending together just about all of the aforementioned instrumentation into something that feels peacefully improvised while at times locking into dense clouds. With wordless vocals that veer between soaring and guttural, it has a strange energy that's somewhere between primal and dawn of the machines.

"Perilous Straits" and "Washed Ashore" continue the nautical theme of song titles and also get much more harsh in terms of sound environment, with the former sending up sheers of noise as waves of white noise crest and crackle before the latter kicks out another high frequency tone that drops into a pool of gurgling electronic chatter, broken tape loops and almost gypsy-style accordion moans. "Jubilee" closes things on a more melodic, high note as the organic instrumentation spills into the mix more prominently and the electronics-dominated previous tracks are melted by the sun. As I mentioned above, this one plays out slowly. There's no real rhythms to speak of, and it's easily one of the more harsh releases (at times) that I've heard from the Kranky label in some time.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2008-09-11 18:39:42