Kyle Bobby Dunn & Wayne Robert Thomas – Split (Whited Sepulchre, 2018)

Album Cover

Do you ever wonder what the world around you would look like if you peeled back all trace of human habitation from it? The thought crosses my mind from time to time when I’m out in nature: it’s very seldom that I feel distant from “civilisation”, or am in a place where some trace of people cannot be seen. I don’t just mean the obvious things like buildings and roads and airports, but footpaths and waymarkers and pipes and fences too, subtle things we’ve imprinted on the landscape. Personally I find it difficult to extract those details from my imagination in most cases, the concept of virgin land becoming increasingly distant and intangible.

This yearning for open spaces, for untouched vistas whose scenes aren’t corrupted by the shameless march of modernity¬†and overbearing hand of man, is key to Dunn’s half of the record in “The Searchers”. Whilst the same mesmerising guitar drones we’ve come to expect of him are all here, the length and scope of this piece is permitted to run much further than what we’re used to; not locked into the restrictions of a greater album, it shimmers and bends and oscillates in a restless cavalcade that sustains itself almost beyond belief.

Dreamy undercurrents swell softly, buttery foundational tones that roll like the hills supporting the shifting restlessness of the world on top. It gleams in pockets of snow, shines on river courses and placid lakes, creaks and croons over the splitting rocks on the mountain sides. We close our eyes to see an unsullied land, one where nature acts as she pleases, everything in its right place.

When we open them again the vision fades quickly, however, and Wayne Robert Thomas’ counterpoint “Voyevoda” arrives in much more subdued tones. Things here are much less vibrant, progress and development occurring with less dynamism and energy. The pace of the drones slows down, becoming more sumptuous in a way, but burdening themselves with an unspoken weight in the process. Evolution becomes more gradual, almost strained, diversity in sound stripping away as human influence adds a patina of artificiality to the sights. Rumbles in the depths of the piece betray a tortured heart, the textural strands that wend their way to the surface maintaining the status quo but suppressing naturalness through their careful design.

Your garden might look like a pretty and wholesome place, but nothing about it is real, every aspect of it monitored and kept in check to keep it presentable and sustainable. As we advance we bend more of the world around us to our satisfaction, control deeper and deeper facets of its appearance. How long will it be before there is nothing left that is free, nowhere that humans can view Earth’s unchecked wildness? The threat grows daily, and the notion soon lost forever.