Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride's most definitive work is this ambitious double album of warm ambient music. While the title and genre suggests functional sleep-inducement, putting this album on in the background misses the delights of its careful and subtle construction. With real-instrument samples smoothed beyond recognition, they explore the possibilities of sound textures, slow pacing and timing. "Requiem For Dying Mothers" is a misleadingly-accessible opener, with a contentedly upbeat (by their standards) string refrain, painted with warm overdubs. It's misleading because these layers and melodies are stripped away through the course of the album, though very gradually. A beautiful crackly piano moodpiece "Down 3" follows, leading to the "Austin, Texas Mental Hospital" suite. Here a huge string sound, as of a hundred cellos in a cathedral, is luxuriated in, finally settling on a single lush chord.
The deep heart of the album is a sequence of pieces each meditating on solitude, silence and inaction, from the gloomy sea-gazing of "Broken Harbors" to the fragility of "The Lonely People (Are Getting Lonelier)". Each of these are built on the swell and resonance of individual, carefully-chosen sounds and chords. "Piano Aquieu" briefly reintroduces more conventional melody, its crossfading piano phrases closer to the "delicate splashes" ambient of Brian Eno's "Music for Airports" than the Lid's customary "droning" style. "Fac 21" restores this style with a finely-arranged swarm of bagpipe-like string drones and swells. But true to its title, the album becomes more and more sleepy towards the end. The single swelling and decaying chord on "A Lovesong (For Cubs)+" seems like slow breathing, which slows even further to a single note and puffs of more explicitly breath-like white noise - ultimately we're not dead, just deeply asleep.
September 30, 2008
See blog entry: Put a Lid on it (5 Oct, 2008)