Aquarelle: Of Memory and Momentum

Following two self-released albums (Whispering Leaves & Singing Skies, The Space Between), Minnesota-based drone specialist Ryan Potts issues the premiere Aquarelle release on his own newly-established Remedios Records label. What makes Of Memory and Momentum so captivating is that Potts' drones (generated entirely from analog effect pedals, acoustic instruments, and field recordings) aren't static entities but slowly mutating organisms that often swell imperceptibly into gargantuan wholes.

He starts the album at a peak level with “In Florence,” a fourteen-minute setting whose gleaming tones incrementally grow into a transcendent mass. One luxuriates in the warm flow of its softly wavering tones, until it slowly recedes to allow quietly rippling noises a brief spotlight. Though it appears to end, the piece starts up again, now dominated by gentle guitar peals, an oscillating electrical drone, and thrumming tinkles. The manipulations are masterfully handled and controlled throughout, specifically the segues from one section to another and the ebb and flow in volume that Potts applies to those same sections. Though the four subsequent pieces are less episodic and adhere more to conventional drone form, they're still fully-realized exemplars of the genre: “Asunder” gradually intensifies via kaleidoscopic sheets of sound that grow ever more radiant while lulling waves of resonating tones expand in “The Perception of Horizontal,” becoming progressively more incandescent over the course of eleven minutes. Completing Potts' fine collection of shimmering meditations are the cathedralesque “A Rare Season” and oceanic “Bedrooms.”

July 2007