Steven Hess / Miles Tilmann: Departures
Other Electricities

The last time I heard from Miles Tilmann he was unspooling deep synth melodies and drum machine beats on the 2006 release Yes & No (Consumers Research and Development). Departures, a new, vinyl-only collaboration with drummer Steven Hess (Pan American and Fessenden member who has worked with the likes of Greg Davis, Sylvain Chauveau, and Christian Fennesz), is far less poppy and considerably more experimental and explorative by comparison—so it comes as no surprise, then, to find Andrew Pekler, Biosphere, and Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) and Steve Reid cited as reference points for the album's musical content. Like Hebden and Reid, Tilmann and Hess stoke swirling atmospheres of electronics-and-percussion improvisations, with Tilmann's vaporous washes and bass tones spread across an ever-evolving flow of percussive accents and patterns. The release's accompanying notes likens their sound to “a complex series of weather systems that assemble, unfold, and disintegrate according to their own logic,” and for once the provided description rings true (“Six By Six,” for example, churns like overdriven hydraulics machinery). Like ceaselessly mutating molecular organisms, the astral travelers' shape-shifting soundscaping flows in a manner that's light years removed from the more conventional song structures of Yes & No.

June 2008