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Brenden Murray & Seth Nehil, "Sillage"

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cover image When a label as esoteric as Sedimental describes a release as their "most challenging," adventurous listeners should know they're in for something fascinating.  The disclaimer should not be ignored because it is a difficult excursion into dense, hostile worlds of sound with a complexity that makes additional listening mandatory.



A trans-continental collaboration (Brendan Murray lives in Boston, Seth Nehil currently resides in Portland, Oregon), this disc actually has its roots in a live collaboration between the two artists in 2003 and 2004, recordings of which are used as base elements for the bulk of the tracks here.  That is not immediately apparent though, as the tracks are extremely focused and tightly structured, even if it seems like unbridled chaos at first. 

"Massive" would be an excellent one-word adjective to describe this disc.  Not to say there aren't quiet or subtle elements to this work, because there are, but when the sound gets "big," it gets "really big."  Even the field recordings of "Feet Wrap Around Chair," which are mostly fragments of surrounding anonymous conversations, there is a wall of reverb that's so thick its almost tangible enshrouding everything except the electronic sounds that crop up here and there throughout the mix.  The electronic drones of "Waving," which actually resemble that of an organ are again massively thick and overpowering, but nicely augmented with a subtle bed of quiet electronic textures that compliment the noise nicely. 

Beyond the electronics experimentation there are occasional percussive elements too, of the more improvised metallic variety, and more instances of field recordings as well, like the heavily amplified and distorted mechanical sounds  of "Underneath A Portrait," which may very well be recorded from underneath of a traveling subway car. 

The quieter moments of the disc might not be as prevalent, but still convey their own mood and feeling, like the buried, emergency beacon like tones of "Wake of Scent" that lead the listener in to shore among the battering waves of feedback around the track.  These sporadic peaceful moments also serve to reinforce the more violent ones, and "Clothes Tear" as a title gives a more than fair indication of the aggression to be heard:  the dying gasps of a foghorn, sounds from a sampler on its last legs and painful electronic squeals. 

Brendan Murray and Seth Nehil have collaborated with a release that probably won't be bringing on many new fans with its innate difficulty, but for that reason it excels and thrives in its complexity and makes the reward for the more determined listener all the sweeter.




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