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Tod Dockstader, "Aerial #2"

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The second part in Dockstader's series of albums based around recordings of radio waves packs a powerful punch. The atmospheric and cold timbres of the first volume have dissipated and have been replaced with a collection of hot, energetic pieces. The previous album was a subdued and relaxing work but with Aerial #2, Dockstader goes straight for the face.


Sub Rosa
 
Dockstader has selected far more active pieces for Aerial #2 than he did for Aerial #1, the pieces here range from rhythmic and pulsing currents of sound to disorientating storms of tones. The music is very evocative: many of the tracks stimulated very detailed daydreams and imaginings in me. "Wail" elicits the feeling of freefalling down a deep, dark chasm where everything is a charcoal grey; I could hear the updrafts of warm air and noises of passing by the ledges at great speed. "Orgal" and "Babbel" were the sound of hitting the bottom of that chasm, belly flopping full force into magma and bathing in the molten rock. It is incredible that each track throbs with so much life; there is no piece that sounds contrived or strained. Every piece flows smoothly and naturally into the next.

Of course I'd be worried if there was even one below par track, Dockstader made nearly 600 mixes over the course of this project, whittling them down to the best 59 for release as this series. The middle of the album calms down but it never rests easy. "Spindrift" is a looming piece that sounds the sky will crack at any moment. The mood continues and the feeling of impending doom escalates in the following track "Surfer." As the album draws to a close, the power starts to build again. Perhaps this is an indication of what is in store in the final part of the trilogy.

By limiting himself to a somewhat limited area of tones (radio waves), Dockstader has proven again to be the master of manipulating normally ignored or intangible sound into flowing, lucid and beautiful landscapes. He has crafted each piece to a fine layer of detail without pushing the music at all into difficult like many musique concrète composers can’t help doing. Aerial #2 is intellectually stimulating but Dockstader doesn’t let that force him to sacrifice accessibility and abstraction from enjoyable music. A lot of music I like can be classified as that which I find enjoyable to listen to and that which I find interesting from a more beard stroking perspective. Aerial #2 joins that special club found at the intersection of these two classifications. It is an absolutely fascinating and infinitely pleasing album.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 15 January 2006 23:45  


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