This is an impressive release… very nice looking and sounding, plus a substantial amount of running time full of good material. This release is basically a split between two projects involving an American electronic artist named Mark Wilson, one of which (Fifteen Degrees Below Zero) is a collaborative group featuring Daniel Blomquist and Michael Addison Mersereau. Both tracks are recorded live in the beautiful city of San Francisco, California. The Conure side consists of one epic track that is quite impressive. He uses a nice balance of quiet, crisp static and an eerie high-end to ride alongside lush electronic noise that sounds like a recording of a storm. There is an astounding array of sounds going on at any moment despite the intensely minimalist feel… at times it reminds me of the early Kluster work featuring Conrad Schnitzler (rest in peace, good Sir) and the more modern work of Eliane Radigue. The mixture of somewhat harsh/unaligned sounds and deeply controlled electronics is beautifully blended together for a haunting and at times mesmerizing effect. Both sides of this release are really good, but I would definitely like to hear more from Conure… a nice feel that kind of transcends noise and drone into an organic blend of expressionist sound. It really sounds like the sort of power and energy behind a storm or a rushing stream. Really nice sounds, just beautiful.
Fifteen Degrees Below Zero is a little less noise-oriented, but their side still is within the realm of the aforementioned minimalist and musique kosmische/”Krautrock” sort of atmosphere and influence. In fact, the guitar sound reminds me a bit of that of the 1st Harmonia LP. Many years later, it is still a pleasing and nice sort of sound for the guitar to make, a plaintive and searching constant rhythmic string-picking that opens the gates for a long improvisation of lush keyboards and other stringed sounds. The live recording quality on both sides of this release is impeccable, giving you a clear view of everything that is going on while still retaining a personal and close-knit sort of feel of live performance. Several times at the beginning, short uncontrolled bursts of feedback emit, and although jarring it gives the perfect impression of being there at the event. Lovely arpeggiated melodies and strange, kind of creepy sounds of a human voice mix together for a heady mix of sonic pleasures. With this kind of music, it is inherent upon the performer to stay level and meet the audience half-way while emitting a particular kind of energy, and these guys really have something special between them where that sort of energy can be detected.
This is the kind of really nice, long, atmospheric tape that you don’t see as much these days… it seems like most cassette labels are focusing on shorter tapes, and thats ok. But there is a really substantial amount of material here that makes for a great extended driving listen. The kind of tape that you can leave by the cassette deck just in case you want to zone out and listen to something dreamy. Danvers State does a great job with the presentation, and respect is due to DS generalissimo Andy Grant for putting out this awesome tape. Every time I listen to it, I notice new parts that had snuck by on previous listens, which is how the best minimalist type of stuff works… just sinking in the brain and soaking up the vibes for a little bit. Cool electronics and warm noise/feedback meet together for a psyched-out and beautiful middle ground. This is a really good tape to have around if you like good music, worth a listen. Definitely interested to hear more work from this Mark Wilson character, really impressive stuff that could appeal to a really wide range of people.
01. Conure – For The Benefit Of Others
02. Fifteen Degrees Below Zero – New Part
03. Fifteen Degrees Below Zero – Horizon Skyline