36: Memories In Widescreen

36's Memories In Widescreen impresses on two grounds above all others: the music itself, first of all, which amounts to thirteen tracks of high-grade ambient soundscaping; and the fabulous presentation, secondly, which comes in the form of two twelve-inch picture discs. Though the recording's music is mesmerizing enough on its own terms, the experience becomes even more enrapturing when one absorbs its seventy minutes while watching the discs' trippy visual patterns rotate on one's turntable.

Memories In Widescreen is the first vinyl-exclusive album from 36 aka Dennis Huddleston, who composed, produced, and engineered the project for his own 3six Recordings (accompanying the recording is a download coupon that tops up the albums' thirteen pieces with two bonus tracks, plus the first fifty records in the 250-copy, limited-edition release include a bonus CD, Bass Communion Reprocessed by 36, that features unreleased tracks). In a typical setting, a melancholy theme nudges its way to the forefront of a thick haze and then repeats hypnotically as the vaporous materials swell and billow. Moods vary from one piece to the next, with a given piece rapturous and another brooding, one peaceful and another turbulent. Storm clouds gather during the portentous opener “Before Time,” with the threat of violent activity ominpresent, after which gauzy pieces like “After Time” and “Lucid” appear. An exercise in celestial sweep, the title track is perhaps the recording's most epic and grandiose setting, whereas the subtle ebb and flow of exhalations during the ambient-drone “Vesl” lends it a soothing quality. “Revert Time” starts out in industrial mode with a piston-driven machine's emissions establishing a rhythmic effect, until the machine's sounds are smothered by an immense cloud. The errant chiming of what sounds like a harpsichord within “Slide” adds an arresting twist, appearing as it does amidst tracks that generally hew closely to a circumscribed pallete of vaporous sounds.

Hearing the recording in download form differs from the vinyl in that each side separates two-to-three pieces from the others, whereas the digital version allows the music to be heard without interruption as Huddleston designed each piece to flow into the next. Either way, the release is definitely worth the attention of ambient-drone aficiandos.

January 2011