Kyle Bobby Dunn: Ways of Meaning
Desire Path Recordings

On his latest full-length Ways of Meaning, Canadian-born and current Brooklyn resident Kyle Bobby Dunn would appear to be taking some degree of inspiration from Stars of the Lid. Of course there are musical similarities, but Dunn also seems to have adopted the group's propensity for track titles that undercut the elegance of their contents—“December Hunting For Vegetarian Fuckface” in Stars of the Lid's case (from 2007's Stars of the Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline) and “Movement for the Completely Fucked” in Dunn's. Whatever gets you through the night, I guess. Dunn's becoming an increasingly well-known name within the ambient-drone community, such as it is, a profile helped greatly along by the release on Low Point of last year's quaintly titled, double-disc opus, A Young Person's Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn (the number twelve pick, incidentally, in textura's 2010 Top 10s and 20s).

The album's six pieces were composed and home-recorded in Brooklyn, with Dunn using organ and guitar as the primary sound sources; while such originating materials do undergo some degree of re-shaping, they're nonetheless presented in largely recognizable form. The hymnal dimension of his music naturally comes into sharp relief during a setting such as “Statuit” where church organ tones occupy the frontline. “Touhy's Theme,” on the other hand, brings guitar shadings more prominently into the spotlight, even if the guitar and organ sounds sometimes blend so seamlessly it's hard to differentiate between them. Hazily sublime in spirit and design is “Canyon Meadows,” which shimmers resplendently in a pastoral and uplifting manner befitting its evocative title. “New Pures” acts as a skeletal drone prelude for the album's longest setting, the aforementioned “Movement for the Completely Fucked,” which quietly extends its delicate tendrils for fifteen beatific minutes. One can hear Ways of Meaning as a succinct distillation of all of the strengths captured on A Young Person's Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn, even if the opening track alone (“Dropping Sandwiches in Chester Lake”) could function as a manifesto for his music as a whole, encapsulating as it does in four minutes the characteristics of his introspective style, specifically its elegiac quality and the sadness and heartache that goes along with it.

May 2011