Howard Stelzer - Dawn Songs [No Rent Records - 2016]Here’s a recent release from this respected & distinctive sounding electo-acoustic noise maker from Lowell MA. The C30 tape appeared on Oakland based cassette label No Rent Records, and offers up two side long slices of dense & subtle morphing composition, which brings together elements of drone, subtle noise-making, and interesting layer detail.
The nice bright yellow cassette features black text printing on both sides of tape. And this comes in a double-side, three panel, colour sleeve- on it's front is a landscape photograph of dawn coming-up over a rolling & golden horizon. And on it’s inside is a cross section of several shades of yellow. All told a nice pro looking presentation.
The two tracks are built from elements recorded between the hours of 4.am & 6.am in Lowell MA. The original sounds where passing cargo trains, birdsong, scrap metal, semi tracks, footsteps, nearby/faraway traffic, voices & dogs. These original elements where then played/ re-recorded in empty parking & warehouse/ factories- with Stelzer blending & layering the elements to create these huge, blurred, and dense sound pictures. Both sides of tape have a very dreamy & unreal feel about them, almost as if you’ve slipped into another dimension, that exists along side ours- where everyday sounds are stretched, morphed, blended & melted together to create this highly compelling cacophony. There are harmonic drifts present here in the slow lulling mush of sound. But like the rest of the tracks sonic make-up these sort of shift ‘n’ slide in the mass, to creating this very dreamy yet a time densely queasy bulk.
Both sides really feel like a two part suite, and really to try & detail exactly what is occurring minute-by-minute would be fruit-less. Yet for all the dense/ dream-ness of both tracks, there is a real ear for both layer detail, and compositional flow present though-out. If you wanted comparisons guess you say someone like Jim Haynes or similar, but really Stelzer has quite a distinctive and unique sound.
All in all Dawn Songs is a most satisfying journey into dense & drone based sound craft. The tape came in a edition of 100 copies, and as of writing the label still has stock left.Roger Batty