David Newlyn: Deterioration
Flaming Pines

If one didn't know better, one might imagine that instead of hearing the opening song on David Newlyn's new album Deterioration (available in a limited edition of 100 copies), one is actually listening to some previously unreleased track from Eno's Music For Films, so reminiscent in sound and spirit is “Dependence” of that ‘70s ambient classic. Part of the reason for that is the prominent amount of tape hiss with which the track's musical content is smeared. At the same time, the woozy warble of the synthesizers that appear alongside that texture also can't help but call to mind Boards of Canada. What distances Newlyn's project from theirs, however, is the extreme to which he pushes the textural side of the recording's concept. By way of background, the Durham, England-based Newlyn (who's issued releases on Hibernate, Time Released Sound, and Cotton Goods, among others) used devices such as micro-cassettes, phones, and cameras to incorporate the outdoors sounds of Bruges, Belgium into the album's ten songs.

Even so, his approach is rather Eno-like in that Deterioration is Newlyn's deliberate attempt to accentuate the recording process as much as the project's musical dimension—and in some cases the former soundly dominates the latter. During “Atheist” and “There You Are,” for instance, the musical elements are almost completely overwhelmed by the textures in play. In other cases, the melodic components come to the fore, and when they do (such as during “Set Four”), the listener is often struck by how sweet and lovely they are. In addition, acoustic and synthetic sounds are sometimes featured in equal measure: buried beneath layers of grime and hiss, the melancholy chime of a piano can be heard resounding throughout “A Different Person,” while piano also emerges during “Away From the Receiver” albeit in a more brooding manner. At album's end, “Deletion On” strikes a delicate and effective balance between the clattering noise associated with the recording process and the musical material, much as the album does as a whole.

November 2012