Aaron Martin & Justin Wright: Light Poured Out of Our Bones

Nickolas Mohanna: Reflectors

Nickolas Mohanna's Reflectors and Aaron Martin and Justin Wright's Light Poured Out of Our Bones provide solid closing chapters to Preservation's limited-edition 2011 CD series Circa. Listeners familiar with the first four installments will once again recognize the series by the abstract geometric cover designs, all of them by Mark Gowing (Preservation's plan is to continue the Circa series in 2012 with a new design model).

Mohanna's Reflectors, the second album by the New York-based sound and visual artist, draws inspiration from the sprawl of sonic detail within his immediate environment and from the sampling and tape manipulation strategies he developed via studies with electronic composer Bob Ostertag. What results are opaque, mutating swarms of cosmic and sometimes bruising character built up from guitar, synthesiser, and field recordings. Mohanna's affinity for kosmische musik comes through loud and clear during the opening minutes of “Color Theory” when synthesizer pulsations are overlaid by mellotron-like swaths that recall Tangerine Dream's Phaedra, though the piece plunges into murkier and noisier territory during its volcanic second half. “Neon Agents” blazes for ten minutes with clangorous sheets of wobbly tones and cosmic textures, and as the album progresses, it becomes clear that the best word to describes Mohanna's approach is intrepid. The man is fearless when it comes to venturing into the outer limits, as the spacey flirtations with the galaxy's outermost fringes in “Mott Street,” “Solar Mechanism,” and “Grows Lush in the Night” reveal. Such densely layered settings combust with blinding detail and waves of hyperactive sound. Reflectors adds up to a fascinating forty-one minute ride through the outermost reaches, though it hardly could be classified as easy listening.

The sixth release in the 2011 Circa series, Light Poured Out of Our Bones finds multi-instrumentalist Aaron Martin and Justin Wright pooling their talents for the first time on record, with the thirty-nine-minute result rooted in Martin's penchant for wide-screen electroacoustic compositions and the solo guitar meditations Wright has produced under the Expo 70 name and that draw upon krautrock and drone traditions. Recorded to tape at Wright's home studio in Kansas City, Missouri and using guitar, synthesizer, cello, organ, banjo, singing bowls, and voice as sound sources, the two channel five foreboding sound-worlds that, compared to Mohanna's, are more earthy though no less hallucinatory and adventurous. A heavy organ presence gives the closing piece, “Sleep Threaded Into Ashes,” a pronounced psychedelic, ‘60s feel, but Light Poured Out of Our Bones is no burned-out relic from days of future past. Martin and Wright illuminate “Moon Smoke” with the warble and whoop of starburst electronics, and scatter sheets of metallic matter across a scorched and never-ending desert for nine minutes during “Shallow Breather.” But the go-to track in this case is clearly the title piece, which for eleven churning minutes bleeds mesmerized, wide-eyed wonderment when not steeped in molten guitar fire and caught up in vertiginous states of ecstasy and derangement.

October 2011