Strategy: Music for Lamping
Audio Dregs

Anyone coming to Strategy's Music for Lamping expecting Future Rock II will be sorely disappointed. By design, the new release signifies a diametric turn away from the extravagant “world house” style of Paul Dickow's 2007 release, and instead opts for steely dubscape meditations—“granular synthesis, vocoding, and bucket-brigade delay” in Dickow's own words—that unfurl as huge billowing clouds from the center of which extend tentacles of metallic shudder. Calling the release “new” isn't inaccurate but it's not wholly accurate either, as the material has shape-shifted for years and some of its extends back to a 2002 collection (Strategy At Beacon Rock) that Dickow recorded for Tigerbeat 6 but which never saw public release. He designed the early material to be “atmospheric” plunderphonic treatments of existing recordings whereas the material from 2004 onwards originated from sound-walks taken by Dickow in his Northwest Portland neighborhood.

With two fourteen-minute pieces framing four relatively short pieces, the hour-long album encourages meditative surrender. The opener “I Can't Stand the Rain” features smeary whorls of sluicing sound (that could very well have started out as rainswept field recordings) and distant whistling tones that pierce the liquid haze as softly howling waves rise and fall. “Cathedral Spark” is dominated by the call-and-response drone of gleaming church organ tones while the placid and tranquil shimmer of “All Day...” and “World Service” offers becalmed respite. It goes without saying that current technology allows the most recognizable sound to be totally transformed so no one should feel too inadequate for not identifying source materials, sampled recordings or otherwise. Perhaps avid cyclist Dickow used samples of his two-wheeler to generate the massive, wavering flow in “Bike Click” but it's impossible to determine by sound alone. Some recognizable elements do initially appear in “Lower Macleay”—outdoors sounds like footsteps and bird chirps—but they're quickly swallowed up into the bottomless depths of murky dronescaping.

April 2008