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Darren McClure - Slow Up, Speed  Down [Audiobulb - 2022]

Born in North Ireland, but currently residing in Matsumoto, Japan, sound artist Darren McClure has been creating deep meditative ambient music since 2007, when Softened Edges his first album was released. He has a career resembling Pandora’s Box, packed with either solo or collaborative works. Slow Up, Speed  Down is McClure’s twenty-first album, and it finds traversing between electronics, drones and processed field recordings.

The music on the album emerges out of a thick haze- it’s both aesthetically and emotionally, and it evolves progressively and concludes in a fully formed abstract materialization. It feels on parallel with the likes of William Basinski, Lawrence English, Fennesz and even Biosphere.  McClure is a determined sound artist, creating focused works with long and repetitive drones, highlighted by field recordings and electronic touches. The title of the album is not just wall dressing, it acts as an idea of what to expect too

Slow Up, Speed Down is deliberately and obviously slow, with McClure heartfully delivering a less detailed and more foggy version of experimental music- yet it’s blatant, in its absence of anything that would ground the music. The album is divided into six pieces, which remain devoted to an eerie sense of sonic sentimentality.

A sonic devotion while listening is a prerequisite, as one must dig into this minimalistic landscape to fully appreciate it. Slow Up, Speed Down is not an easy album per se. It is a work bearing multiple readings and different understandings of its multi-layered structure. Naturalism is sincerely expressed, yet remains introverted, with all hidden elements maintained under the solid crust. A crust fragile enough and ready to be penetrated, so the listener can be submerged in this exquisite ambient beauty.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Karl Grümpe
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