Jeremy Bible & Jason Henry: Vryashn
Gears of Sand

On Vryashn (a stripped-down version of “variation”), prolific duo Bible and Henry present two long-form settings that at times unfold so glacially they mimic the physiological slowdown that occurs during deep sleep (in the creators' own words, “(t)he common theme for this body of work is the sensation of dreams within dreams, …(s)pecifically a dream of being surrounded by snow, becoming numb and falling asleep only to awake in the rain in another dream and location”). The two incorporate “water line pipes, wine glasses, rain on a window, and a garage lamp” into the recording but piano is the dominant sound source, though the pair uses digital processing to stretch some of the instrument's notes into infinity and layer them into heaving, cloud-like masses. In “Vryashn 1,” a largely untreated piano motif bounces across the surface of the windswept trails that escalate and decompress behind it until the sounds coalesce into a singular rumbling mass that calls to mind Charlemagne Palestine in the brick-like solidity of its clustering. Immense piano-generated swathes of haze introduce atmospheric ripples of fog and rain as the now-melded mass heaves like the exhalations of a sleeping behemoth. The half-hour “Vryashn 2” follows without interruption, immediately introducing a textural roughness absent in the opener. Muffled noises—human or animal—emerge alongside foghorn-like bell tones that pierce the early morning harbour mist. There's an unhurried feel to the piece's development but there's also ample activity and detail in play, and part two—presumably abetted by field recordings—exudes a real-world quality that the comparatively hermetic first part eschews. Chain-like sounds clatter amidst rippling noise patterns as “Vryashn 2” gradually gains some semblance of rhythmic definition when the first part's blurry piano swathes and bouncing motif re-appear to progressively wrest control from the textural treatments. Using a minimum of means, Bible and Henry create in these two pieces fully-formed soundscapes that while long in duration never feel as if they should be shortened, and consequently Vryashn proves to be an excellent showcase for their particular brand of experimental artistry.

December 2008