Donato Wharton: Body Isolations
City Centre Offices

Donato Wharton chose the dance term ‘body isolations' as his latest album's title to create a parallel between a dancer's (and viewer's) concentration on the movement of an isolated body part—leg, foot, arm, hand, head, whatever—and a given track's concentration on a particular mood or expression. True enough: there's no question that each of the disc's nine evocative settings exudes a radically different character, with some generally delicate and others aggressive. The mood is predominantly dour (though not unpleasantly so) and proves most rewarding when broached as ‘headphones' music so that its subtle detailing can be best savored.

The material's understated character is evident the moment “Absentia,” a translucent scrim of tiny ripples and static, appears and the delicate ambiance is maintained by the shuddering meditation “Blue Skied Demon” and the spindly guitar lattices and gentle piano sprinklings of “Transparencies.” Wharton's more extroverted side comes to the fore in “Underwave,” where a steely wave crests alongside droning thistles of electrical hum, and “Puget Sound,” where scuttling noises echo amidst piercing bell tone accents, evoking the grey seascape suggested by the title. Though Body Isolations' material is consistently compelling, the album's strongest pieces emerge during its second half: chopped fragments of drums, bass, and warbling guitars drift through a bluesy, crackle-laden haze in “The End of the American Century” while scalded guitars softy snarl through a desolate landscape in “Deities Stalk the Land,” the song's blurry guitar sound vaguely similar to Robert Fripp's in his extended Eno collabs. The album closes with the seamlessly bridged “Sidereal” and “Wake” which collectively present a particularly heavenly meander of ghostly guitar peals and piano murmurs.

November 2006