Distant Animals - Lines [Hallow Ground - 2018]Sound, video, and performance artist Daniel Alexander Hignell uses his creativity and passion not just for the aural pleasures of music fans worldwide, but also to further his knowledge of sound, form, and function of making art. Completing his doctorate in 2017, Hignell recorded part of the 130 page text-score as this release, Distant Animals' Lines. His sole release under the moniker, Lines is a wonderful sonic environment in which to spend some time in contemplation.
Consisting of two, side-long tracks, Lines takes the listener through some of Hignell's research via modular synthesizer. "A Pure Drone" moves forth, thick with oscillations and layers which play upon each other like clouds, waves, and sea. Steady and yet churning, one gets the image of alien movement, like the view of the otherworldly ocean in Tarkovsky's Solaris. "A Pure Drone" is interesting in that, while it doesn't feel like it's doing much, there is a lot of motion going on. The sound is being shaped, destroyed, reshaped, and broken down again, all while remaining sonically impressive, thick, and intriguing. Side two takes the tonal drone in a different direction. "Line Made By Walking" separates the layers a bit by tone, and adds some crispy, tight, modulated cacophony in between. If "A Pure Drone" was the view of the alien sea from the safety of the space station, "Line Made By Walking" is the approach, surface visit, and eventual submerging. After some changes in texture, "Line" opens up into a soggy, fuzzy, near industrial ritual. Like waking up on crazed, celebrating cultists after drinking the potion, the frenzied, sequence on display is wonderfully chilling. The next few minutes traverse many new tones and ideas, and "Line" wraps up leaving the listener with the feeling that they've fully traveled the course laid out by their speakers.
Lines may be only a portion of Daniel Alexander Hignell's 130 page dissertation, but it feels complete. The sections chosen for this release work well with each other in the time frame, and open the door for more pieces of Lines to be consumed. With an unknown number of textual score lines ahead, one would be well advised to check out the first release from this sure to be intriguing sonic dissertation.Paul Casey