review

Textura

Followers of Eric Quach's thisquietarmy project might already know of the high regard with which the Montreal-based producer (also one-half of Mains de Givre and a Destroyalldreamers member) holds Scott Cortez and the work he's issued under the lovesliescrushing alias, a conviction borne out by the fact that Quach designed the thisquietarmy name so that it too would be in lowercase and sans wordspacing. Meridians is notable on a couple of counts, the first obviously being that it's a collaboration between the two artists. It's also, surprisingly, the first thisquietarmy recording to appear on vinyl, as it is also for the Chicago-based Scott Cortez under his real name. In actual fact, Meridians is a collaboration—Three:four describes it as a ‘cross-project' and ‘guitar duet'—in a unique sense of the word: separated by a thousand miles, the two each began to record the material for the album's respective sides on December 18th, 2009 at 1pm EST. Having agreed upon the compositional parameter that the original drone would be a three-tone piece (with a different string for each tone), each then sent the resultant work-in-progress to the other for overdubbing and mixing. As a result, side one (“41° 52' 50” N, 87° 42' 39” W”) pairs Cortez's drone with Quach's ‘glassine' guitar solo, whereas side two (“45° 30' 4” N, 73° 33' 29” W”) weds Quach's drone to Cortez's'static burst' guitar solo. Of course, nothing as conventional as a guitar solo appears, as both contributors are clearly more interested in using the instrument as a sound-generating device capable of producing washes, textures, and sheets of shuddering sound.

Side one opens with a huge, throbbing drone that rumbles like a low-flying 747 and is a slab that's as thick as concrete; clearly, those with a taste for the lower end of the sound spectrum will be in heaven. Crystalline details appear too, expanding the sonic range of the music's slow burn, and the guitar functions here as spirit medium above all else, as ghostly plumes exhale in large, coal-black masses. Though there's hiss aplenty, side two's background material is softer, more glassy and willowy, which allows for a greater degree of contrast and separation between the misty background and the shuddering spindles inhabiting the foreground. If side A is the dark and disturbed underbelly, side B is the peaceful aftermath, the ruins left smoldering when the attack's over. At 45 rpm, the material unfurls without haste, and the effect is even more potent when the record's played at 33 rpm (as suggested by the accompanying press notes). For devotees of the two artists and their output, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to call Meridians, available in a limited edition of 499 copies, something of an event.