Amulets: Sierra Highs
Heligator Records

Emerging gently from a lulling flow of granular hiss and static, Sierra Highs offers the latest sampling of Randall Taylor's guitar-centric work under the Amulets name. The Austin, Texas-based audio-visual artist uses cassette manipulation, circuit bending, and looping to produce multi-layered constructions that draw upon ambient, drone, and electronic music genres. In the present case, Taylor threads chiming guitar fragments in amongst dense clouds of heavenly washes for thirteen minutes to conjure a fragile entity that's both celestial, in its uplifting character, and earthy, in the occasional rawness of its sound design. At one moment, the material touches the sky and strains to venture beyond it; at another, smoldering guitar tones lend the music a primal quality that locates it squarely on terra firma. As might be expected of a long-form setting of its kind, Taylor's piece slowly builds to a measured climax that when it arrives is as striking for the control with which it's effected as anything else. It also bears worth mentioning that all proceeds from Amulets' single—as well as every other release issued by the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Heligator Records—are used to fund the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Mpaka, Swaziland.

February 2016