Jeremy Young: Chants Beneath The Bed Of The Furnace Brook
Palaver Press

In partnership with Ian Temple and Jesse Perlstein, Jeremy Young creates tremulous electronic settings laced with fragile piano textures and experimental sound treatments under the Sontag Shogun name. Though it's not inconsistent with the work he contributes to the group project, a rather different side of Young's artistic persona is documented on Chants Beneath The Bed Of The Furnace Brook, a long-form dronescape the Palaver Press co-founder recorded in a single pass using a Heathkit signal generator and digital and analog tape-delay. Issued in digital and cassette formats, the fifty-two-minute work—“a descriptive reflection of the gravitational pull between movement and stillness” in Young's own words—was inspired by a stream situated in upstate New York where his parents live.

Parallels can be easily drawn between the musical material and the work's source of inspiration. Like water in a stream, the music appears simultaneously charged with energy and, in its concentration on a single tone as a foundation, stilled by peaceful calm. To say, however, that the work focuses on a single tone is misleading as said tone undergoes countless transformations over the course of the piece's unfolding. Multiple tonal layers accrue, and lulling waves of resonance materialize as the effects of tape delay and feedback rhythms kick in. While on the one hand the sound mass determinedly hews to a consistent pitch, it also feels as if it's bending, even if so subtly the listener begins to suspect that it might be nothing more than a hallucinatory impression.

Chants Beneath The Bed Of The Furnace Brook is, on the one hand, a work of minimalism, yet it's also not lacking in incident. Thirteen minutes into the piece, the sound mass expands with the addition of higher and lower pitches, a bass tone at one end and a swirling electrical thrum at the other, and at the twenty-eight-minute mark a pulsating bass throb surfaces to nudge the work in the direction of kosmische synthesizer music. Seven minutes later, that bass pulse seems locked in battle with equally insistent treble pitches, and it's at such moments, moments redolent of the intense dazzle wrought by the playing of the Theatre of Eternal Music, that the work renders ridiculous any possible characterization of it as wallpaper-styled ambient music.

Being a long-form piece that unfolds without pause, Chants Beneath The Bed Of The Furnace Brook is perhaps best experienced in its digital form as the cassette version obviously splits it into two sections. Regardless, the recording should be played at a high volume in order for the material to flood the aural space as completely as possible. In one critical sense, Chants Beneath The Bed Of The Furnace Brook isn't entirely a solo work by Young, as Greg Davis's fine-tuned mastering does much to bring out the subtleties and nuances of the dronescape. It also isn't the only solo release by Young planned for 2015, as he's also scheduled to issue A Pulse Passes from Hand to Hand, a duo outing with cellist Aaron Martin, on Chihei Hatakeyama's White Paddy Mountain imprint.

April 2015