Foxy Digitalis

This LP comes packaged in a lovely charcoal grey jacket with a nameless map suggesting an imaginary topography that might accompany its sound. Itís the perfect outer cover for a mysterious and patient set of music. While Iíve heard the project name thisquietarmy before, I chose to dig into the recordís grooves without further biographical research. The record (and in fact project name) seems to beg for anonymity or at the very least a cloaked mystique, so I felt it best to let the sound speak for itself. Cortez is an unknown to this listener as well. On each sidelong piece offered here, the partners trade off guitar-based ambient drones and various extras on top (e.g. ďglassine guitar solo, static burst guitar soloĒ). The back cover goes further to tell us that the two recorded their guitar parts simultaneously, albeit in different time zones, and then traded tracks for overdubbing. Itís an interesting gambit, and one that works well here. The foundational drones on the A-side seem to be played on the lower three guitar strings (E-A-D), while the B-side offers the higher register strings (G-B-E). Again, a conceptual move that works Ė the A-side is darker and more ominous, setting a doom-laden tone that is beautifully lifted on the second side as the higher tones suggest lightness and redemption. The record is bathed in reverb, but never so much that the purity of the guitar tones are lost. Whatís most striking about the record is its infinite patience Ė neither player is in a rush to get anywhere in particular, and the result is a rich and complex meditation on a fairly limited palette of tones. Melodies are mostly implied through a remarkably subtle use of loops and effects rather than presented forthright, and the overall feel of the listening experience is warm and inviting. Both of the contributors avoid cliche and navigate their tonal exploration with aplomb. As a final aside, the record is to be played at 45 rpm, but I suggest also giving it a spin at 33 Ė it works equally well and gives more of a Sunn O))) vibe, if thatís your cup of tea. A remarkably beautiful sounding and versatile platter. (9/10)