David Newlyn: Looped Fragments of Longing
October Man

October Man label head and recording artist David Newlyn follows his recent Relatively Down release on Symbolic Interaction with the self-released Looped Fragments of Longing. In general, the new tracks place alternately pretty, sprightly, stately, and melancholy piano melodies at the material's center which Newlyn then augments with willowy synth tones, sparkling electronic touches, and field recordings (traffic sounds, distorted voices, ambient city sounds); his second major move is to often transform those elements by either adding glitchy treatments (ripples and other assorted noises) or by shredding the material into stuttering fields of abstraction.

Many pieces are tranquil, ruminative, and becalmed in mood; in fact, somber piano melodies reverberate so strongly throughout “Social Investigation,” they call to mind the style of Terre Thaemlitz's Rubato recordings; the hymnal synth-based style of “Coming Into Focus,” on the other hand, is reminiscent of Eluvium's Talk Amongst the Trees. In truth, the material that's least altered impresses most. The tranquil evocation “I Was Looking for You Last Night” needs nothing more than acoustic guitar, piano, and soft synth tones to make its mark, and its mood would only be compromised if needless alterations were applied (“Departed,” for example, would be as, if not more, effective if its minimal piano chords were heard sans creaking noises). Newlyn's compositions are satisfying enough that hearing them as largely unadorned piano meditations would be equally welcome, if not more preferable.

March 2008