Sublamp: In Our Hiding Voice

Ryan Connor's latest Sublamp venture (his work also has appeared on labels such as SEM and Dragon's Eye) takes its inspiration in part from the decaying world depicted in Tarkovsky's Stalker, with the In Our Hiding Voice title alluding to the imagined scenario of children playing hide-and-seek within that collapsing world. To capture such murkiness in aural form, Connor, a sound and video artist by trade, ran electric guitar playing through a Fender tube amp and, after amassing hours of source recordings, wove the results into collages built from accidental hum, interstitial noise, and other raw materials; those sounds were in turn processed further by recording them onto magnetic tape and looping them back through an amp.

The ten tracks that make up In Our Hiding Voice are a varying bunch, some of them inclined towards industrial-styled dronescaping and others that are more vaporous in tone and texture. At times, it feels as if a thick fog is rolling in, ready to render everything in its path invisible. Melody is downplayed and texture emphasized in miniature-drone settings that are, for the genre, surprisingly short, with many of them hewing to a three- to four-minute duration; it's especially odd to hear “Corner Ghost,” for example, exit after only two minutes, just when it appears to be setting the stage for something grander to happen. While ambient-drone pieces are, by definition, lean, melodically speaking, they often compensate for that lack in the subtle textural evolutions that occur within a given piece. Connor's tracks would benefit from a bit more in that department, as some of the album's pieces are more static than they might be; “Tunnels,” by contrast, offers a good model to follow, given the gradual mutations that transpire in spite of the modest three minutes allotted to it, while the closing “Hiding Song” makes good on its extended eight-minute run by slowly swelling into a gently heaving mass of muffled guitar shimmer.

March 2011