Aural Diptych Series # 1: Mains de Givre: Insomnie à l'ail; thisquietarmy: Drifting/Falling
TQA Records

Aural Diptych Series # 2: Quilt: Vague; Hoefizer: Henning
TQA Records

Both of these releases from Eric Quach's TQA Records evidence the ‘labour of love' one associates with small-label releases where the focus is more on product than profit. Each recording contains two three-inch discs packaged in printed sleeves and accompanying photographs (by Montreal-based artist Meryem Yildiz), with all of it neatly collected into a larger printed envelope (featuring illustrations by NYC-based artist Elayne Safir).

The fact that Mains de Givre's debut album Esther Marie appears on textura's own label isn't enough to prevent me from commenting on the group's three-inch contribution to the Aural Diptych Series # 1 release, conflict of interest be damned. Guitar experimentalist Quach and violinist Émilie Livernois-Desroches recorded the long-form drone setting Insomnie à l'ail on October 27, 2009. The piece begins in lament mode with Quach's guitar exhaling softly, as if waiting for the violin to awaken. When it does, it does so mournfully, with a descending theme voiced repeatedly until the violin's melodic trajectory extends upwards too. Quach's effects similarly expand, becoming more and more alien and snake-like until they threaten to drown the violin. Needless to say, the combination of the violin's natural cry and the guitar-generated abstract sound field is as potent as a narcotic.

Recorded on the same night as the Mains de Givre piece, the second disc's three-part Drifting/Falling presents Quach working alone under his thisquietarmy guise. A natural complement to his Aftermath recording, the TQA material focuses on atmosphere sculpting and using the guitar to generate multi-layered textures. The music evolves patiently as it swells in intensity and then pulls back, the guitar's twang at times piercing the thick fog as the surrounding mass drifts along in an agitated blur. The third part at first suggests it will provide semi-peaceful closure but it too gradually grows restless and disturbed. The release as a whole obviously forms an excellent companion to the Esther Marie and Aftermath recordings.

Aural Diptych Series # 2 features respective samplings of music by Quilt (Brooklyn, NY-based Seth Graham of the now-defunct band Romance of Young Tigers) and Hoefizer (Montrealer David Mitchell). Quilt's Vague immediately distances itself from the Aural Diptych Series # 1 set in presenting four synthesizer-based settings of rather psychedelic character, rather similar in spirit to the White Rainbow recordings issued on kranky. “Peggy, Charlie and Francis” at times suggests a lunatic let loose on a church organ, harpsichord, and synthesizer when its vaporous smears and swirls grind so forcefully. “A Difficult and Mysterious Word – Here –” sputters and combusts for five turbulent minutes, while “The More Mystery and Romance = More Sales” pursues a more meditative line in its layering of glimmering synthetic streams.

Recorded on guitar with no overdubs, Hoefizer's Henning returns us to the drone-oriented territory of Quach's thisquietarmy material with three spectral settings of placid drift packed with hazy waves and grainy tones. Of the three pieces included, it's the central one, “Rose Hips,” that makes the strongest impression in exuding an understated, tranquil calm that's both powerful and affecting, and Mitchell demonstrates remarkable skill in sustaining its whisper-like mood for the track's full nine minutes.

June 2010