I think it’s safe to call Kyle Bobby Dunn my favourite Ambient-Drone composer of recent years; every record of his is such a beautifully personal and emotive experience that it’s difficult for me to avoid getting caught up in their introspections, every second of their guitar drones and smeared acoustic instrumentation evoking a complex and evolving sense of feeling. For me, Dunn captures the dynamism and textural intricacies of emotion better than anybody else, every one of his tracks beautifully highlighting the futility of creating black and white states. It’s true that I didn’t originally put this down as my #1 for 2012 but over the past few years and many, many listens this album has earned a place in my heart.
As I was thinking about how to summarise this 2 hour, two disc behemoth it struck me how distinct each piece really is here, like little postcards from snippets of Dunn’s life we’re allowed to peek into, something that’s become more obvious with each of his records. It’s hard for me to accept that this all seems to “sound the same” as many people criticise, considering how often it flits between present experience and past reflection, especially as disc two begins to feel more introspective. Pieces like “An Evening With Dusty” capture these slow and pleasant moments within the now as it spins out twilight pastel sequences, oddly cosy and replete in its own way and unsure of the state of time, coupling with the aftermath in “The Hungover” which may be the most beauteous impression of such a shitty feeling, allowing small currents of discomfort to lace the quiet and placid atmosphere before it strengthens and feels better at its conclusion, blending past and present into fuzzy inconsequence.
“La Chanson de Beurrage”, the song of buttering, feels strangely active and present, slowly finding its feet and gaining purpose in its life as it moves from very faint and insubstantial drone turnings to thick and churning tuffets that possess valuable and meaningful strength, capped by the distillation of supplementary “Ending of All Odds”, taking its developmental sound and squeezing out the hardships in its bent guitars that luxuriously shimmer and oscillate. None of it seems to really echo the Stars of the Lid fanboyism that many seem to attribute to this record though, with perhaps the possible exception of disc one closer “Diamond Cove (And Its Children Were Watching)”, with its weird titling and menacing flourishes that echo Refinement of the Decline somewhat in its pseudo-chambered instrumentation.
Disc two is I think rather more reflective and pained, clearly searching for something meaningful in its existential thoughts. “Innisfal (Rivers of My Fathers)” has a distinctive nostalgia and historic gaze to it, its keen innocence lost in thought as it wonders at the scenery, engaging in sights that his forebears would have experienced, whilst “In Search of a Poetic Whole” seems distant and anxious, incomplete as it moves through life’s repetitive motions without companionship, or perhaps its cyclic thrums are a beacon for other lost souls? These lonely excitations are echoed in the miserable passages of the submerged sounding “Parkland”, lost in reverbed tones and shimmering mirages of haunting loneliness, swimming in cool Winter light by one’s self, its listlessness passing into the barely there “Completia Terrace”, almost non-existent and without form in its far away drone nothings. Clearly opener of disc two “The Troubles With Tres Belles” is a telling prelude to these ruminations, admiring these confident and beautiful individuals disconnected from our lives and perhaps even resentful of the lack of attention we receive as a result.
Bring Me The Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn indeed, for in the two hours Dunn grants us we get to see some meagre snippet of the slow motion tumult of his daily, perhaps yearly, emotional existence and feel some sympathetic connection and relation to it. It always feels real and relatable, even when and perhaps especially when it’s hidden behind layers of textural noise; nothing we ever feel is cut and dry, nothing we experience is ever simple and that’s really why I love his work so much. Kick back this evening and lose yourself in these emotional abstractions, I promise you won’t be disappointed.