Cory Allen: Still
Quiet Design

Still, Cory Allen's follow-up to the early 2011 release Pearls and 2010's Hearing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Hears, would be as natural a fit for 12k as Allen's own Quiet Design, given that the release exudes the same kind of meditative ambiance and fine-tuned sensitivity to textural detail that are hallmarks of 12k's releases. True to form, Still feels very much as if time is standing, yes, still in the recording's four settings, such that, paradoxical though it might be, the album's material manages to exude static and developmental qualities in equal measure.

“Shutter Echo” introduces the album on somewhat of an alien note with the slow-motion swirl of cavernous whirrings, fuzz, flutter, and other grainy noises until the comfortingly familiar presence of an electric piano arrives in the form of sparse and meditative meander—the effect a little bit reminiscent of the way in which Robert Wyatt's piano humanizes Eno's ambient colourations on the opening piece of Music For Airports. The presence of what sounds like amplified vinyl crackle gives “Goodbye Ghost” a suitably spectral character, as if the ghosts of recordings past have been exhumed and re-awakened. That surface texture also resembles the kind of ambient ripples one hears at the seashore, which in turn lends the piece an open-air expansiveness that's present to a lesser degree on the other pieces. “Goodbye Ghost,” one of the two most densely textured settings, could pass for a processed field recording taken at an early morning harbour, where myriad creaks and rustlings meld into a muffled whole. Real-world sounds intrude to an even greater degree during “Ascension” when the overlapping bell tones of various clocks and the utterances of creatures overshadow the melodic elements. Still isn't without its darker moments, either, as shown by the second half of “Becoming” when the threat of an oncoming storm spreads itself across the track's droning flurries.

Throughout Allen's thirty-seven-minute collection, the material develops in accordance with a natural and fundamental logic, much like the development of an organism through time. There's an unhurried feel to the material as it moves through its mutating stages, and its generally relaxed drift induces a corresponding sense of calm and thus heightened receptiveness in the listener.

December 2011