Erstlaub: On Becoming an Island
Highpoint Lowlife

Operating under his Erstlaub pseudonym, Dave Fyans (aka Daigoro) challenges his listeners with On Becoming An Island, an uncompromising, forty-four minute travelogue of brooding character. That it's one single long piece shouldn't intimidate anyone, however, as it's an extremely accessible work of oft-restrained character. Of course, the title hints at deepening isolation and the theme finds its aural realization in the gradual stripping away of sound that occurs during the second half. Though one may choose to ponder the connections between the brooding work and its title, the latter can be disregarded and the piece experienced on sound terms alone.

A drone-like nucleus unifies On Becoming An Island, but the piece is far too multi-dimensional for it to be characterized as drone music per se. Over the course of the album, one encounters windswept curlicues and rumbling drones, the croaking calls of an exotic species, ghostly whistles, and subtly dissonant tonal streams. Gradually the sum-total of sound diminishes, allowing the piece to become ever more stark and eerie, until the sounds swell in the final minutes, coalescing into churning rhythms that vaguely suggest Basic Channel-Chain Reaction techno. While it's hardly a programmatic work, natural sounds of bubbling water and even volcanic activity are evoked. A veritable master class in digital processing and nuanced soundscape design, On Becoming An Island is available in a too-limited run of 100 physical copies, each one of which is neatly housed in a white DVD case.

January 2008