Chris Herbert - Mezzotint [Kranky - 2006]There is a lot of this stuff about at the moment, make no mistake about it. Whether you want to call it drone, ambient, minimalism, or whatever, there is a lot of it about. Kranky have made a big deal of Herbert’s non musician status, the music being constructed through layers of field recordings and processed on a desktop PC. All this is fine but what is the end product like?
First piece Stab city begins in a very swampy gaseous way like the sound is expanding out of the speakers filling the room. The faintest hints of rhythm and melody drift through the miasma on occasions but for the most part the music is formless. Less formless is Elisa which has swaths of unknown looped elements over a bed of deep drones, glitchy clicks and pulses.
Chlorophyll is a two part less oppressive mix of drones and delicate electronics, more deserving of the ambient tag it’s vast spaces house sonorous vessels that resonate with a distinct pulse straight into the second part where the pulse takes over the sounds and is accompanied by more digital cut up clicks. Fans of Ulvers Teachings in silence music will find much to like here. The music has that same imagined abstract idea of living technology and urban spaces. The concept of a singing architecture is one that many electronic artists particularly in the drone and ambient field seem to find fascinating, and Herbert use of field recordings and mechanised layering, deconstructing approach fits very much in that vein.
Suashi takes the sonic landscaping even further creating oppressive undulating waves of low end drone and static which seem to lead nowhere but never fail to hold your attention. The second part of Horse latitudes is worth a mention as it sounds halfway between being on a space station and ECG machine in a hospital.
The final two part piece Lets get boring seems to leave behind the field recordings in favour of a slow repeated organ or synth melody that lies as if buried under a mountain of reverb and delay. Duncan Simpson
Mezzotint while not adding anything greatly surprising to the growing piles of free form electronic drone does has an atmosphere and sense of mood that many will find appealing.