Scott Cortez: Twin Radiant Flux

The first twenty seconds of Twin Radiant Flux are virtually silent—a telling harbinger of the phantom character of the album's material as a whole. It's a sixty-six-minute of processed solo guitar work by Lovesliescrushing's Scott Cortez that though laid down between 1997 and 1999 sounds as if it could have been recorded yesterday. The Chicago-based guitarist uses a modest array of guitars, four-track cassette recorders, and looping pedals to produce ghostly set-pieces where the treated guitar's tones stretch into long-form ripples and waves. The tracks vary in length from three minutes to fourteen, but the detail is moot as Cortez fashions the previously unreleased material into a single, uninterrupted piece. The material grows especially gaseous during the twelve-minute fourth part, so much so that the listener feels as if he/she is hovering in slow-motion amongst the clouds. Billowing masses shimmer until we descend to cavernous terra firma in track five, where an occasional steely wave surges against the shore, until things turn unearthly once more during the vaporous, fourteen-minute closer. There's a purity to the material that renders a detail such as the tiny starburst at the close of the third part conspicuous, and though there's a fundamentally experimental edge to the album, the warm and enveloping character of the processed guitar textures make Twin Radiant Flux as user-friendly as experimental music can be. As a result, Cortez's ambient-drone soundscapes provide an alluring hour-long experience of ethereal drift.

January 2011