Posts Tagged ‘Matt Beatty’

Box Records – 7th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Gavin Miller’s hardly been slacking of late: in fact, it turns out I’ve been struggling to keep pace with his output this last year or so. While for many, time seems to have stalled since the sequence of lockdowns began some fourteen months ago, Miller’s had his foot firmly on the accelerator, expanding the already extensive worriedaboutsatan catalogue with five new releases, including an archival excavation (appropriately titled The Vault) and an expanded reissue of the Europa EP, and a split release with Capac, all of which followed a brand-new LP, in the form of Time Lapse.

This latest effort, releases on Box Records, run by Matt Beatty of Pigs x7, arrives almost a year to the day after Time Lapse, and is in many respects of the period since its predecessor was recorded, a period which has been both eventful and uneventful at the same time.

The liner notes detail Miller’s objective in piecing together the album as follows: ‘Resisting the urge to simply turn in more longform experiments in expansive post-rock informed electronica, Providence seeks to capture several different elements of the ‘satan sound, whilst attempting to thread it together into one cohesive whole.’

There has been a certain sense of linearity to the majority of previous ‘satan releases, although that sense of trajectory has, for me, always been most defined in the live sets, and the challenge here is very much how does one provide a sense of flow, of linearity, or narrative, of continuity; to what is, in many ways, a drifting desert of time, punctuated by so very little?

Since the departure of Thomas Ragsdale, at which point worriedaboutsatan again became Gain solo, the beat and bass elements of the sound have much more subdued, and sonically, Providence is very much classic Miller: rich ambient tones with subtle undercurrents that allude to post-rock and glitchtronica, and on paper, it probably doesn’t sound all that remarkable – although perhaps what is remarkable is that worrriedaboutstan started carving this nice back in 2006, before it became commonplace, making was trailblazers the world has gradually caught up with.

‘Stück Für Stück’ shimmers, rippling notes cascading delicately down like droplets of spring rain while a subdued, almost subliminal beat and bassline pule in the background, and ‘Für Immer’ finds Miller return to German for the track’s title – and perhaps some clues as to the narrative lie in the titles of the tracks. ‘Für Immer’ shares no obvious connections to the 1982 DAF album of the same title, but perhaps hints at the sense of eternity that pervades Miller’s work, not least of all as reflected in the name of his label, This is it Forever. It may be creative reading, it may be the enactment of reception theory or even projection on my part, but some of the track’s resonance lies in the sense that the soft ambience, directionless, lacking overt form, encapsulates the drifting emptiness of this span of disconnection, of aimlessness, of there being no end in sight, and the weak, powerless, listless, feeling is engenders, a sense reinforced by ‘On Your Own’, and all of the connotations of isolation and loneliness it carries.

Waves washing onto the shore splash through soft chimes on the short interlude that is ‘Everything is Fine’ (which I can’t help as read by turns as sarcastic and self-affirmation, but neither of which suggest that things truly are fine), while ‘Stop Calling My Phone’ is its antithetical scenario, and it’s a jabbing, petulant synth that dominates this track All or nothing: the desolate silence, or the bombardment of contact are both equally difficult to manage, and there rarely seems to be a happy medium.

If the nine-minute trance-inducing haze of ‘Stórar Franskar’ articulates the expansive drift of time and that sea of emptiness, then closer ‘Just to Feel Something’ is perhaps the companion to ‘Everything is Fine’, in that the numbness manifests as façade. Because everything is so empty, and so numb, and so absent, it’s difficult to retain focus, a sense of space, a sense of perspective.

Providence is the perfect soundtrack to those protracted spells of ponderance, that discomfort and dissatisfaction, the introspective reflection and self-doubt. It stands as a magnificent blank canvas into which to project and reflect. It’s also another strong addition to the worriedaboutsatan catalogue.

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