Endlessly sparse and reminiscent of The Ballasted Orchestra era of Stars of the Lid, Unblurred Variants feels like something of a time capsule, its effortless slow motion drone cruises borne of electric piano, cello and guitar wafting lightly over the senses and covering elusive ground.
Each of the five pieces seems to descend increasingly into calm reduction, losing incrementally any sense of time and space as textures fold down around us beyond all notion of recognition. Opener “Doxxing The Continental Drift” hints suggestively at hidden depths, tuffets of twinkling guitar allowed to creep through the placid drone beds, nothing ever allowed to breach the surface and instead content to sit refracting in the quiescence of the sub-surface.
Cool and tentative “This Is The Safety That They Deliver” comes second, the light less fresh and glimmering now as it proceeds on more singular, glassy sweeps of drone rather than the peaking tidal motions of its predecessor. Time seems to stall, the piece hovering indiscriminately on the edge of uneasiness, oscillating gently between peace and insecurity as the elongate tones envelope and overlap one another, a sense of unhappiness in the hierarchical order of the world.
That hovering sentiment of disenfranchisement seems to continue in sibling effort “Chandeliers As Big As Temples” as we stand in the face of grandeur. Idiosyncratic chords burn with impossible slowness, sinking into a deepening echoic mire, tones slurring through a veil like Autumn light through silk. There’s a softly developing sense of wonderment and awe, of power and wealth and status translated through the constructions of a different age.
Like a window through time we glimpse a sense of the Establishment as it once was, in all its gilt and finery. “Glass Inlets” reminds us of the transformative power of the window, the generous portal to the outside world; a connection built only through the seeing, feeling without touching. What memories do the panes hold, what views have they endured and transmitted, it asks in glowing, ultra-reductive cellos.
We’ve seen the lights of change and time, of unease, that leaves lengthy closer “The Gurdon Light” to leave us with the light of mystery. Named after a paranormal phenomena in Arkansas, it’s an apparition said to be the lantern light of a railroad worker killed on the tracks. That being said the music is far from eerie; thrumming electric bass currents and lulling guitar strokes feel unburdened and empowered if anything, pleased that there is still a notion of mystery and superstition in the world, bobbing contentedly along in sweet ignorance.