review

Textura

Bring together two experimental guitarists sensitive to atmosphere and schooled in the ways of ambient, drone, post-rock, and shoegaze genres and what do you get? Offtempo, an hour-long collaboration between Larkian (Cyril Monnard) and Yellow6 (Jon Attwood). The two go back a ways, with Attwood having released the seven-inch Yellow6 single Grey on Monnard's Tricycle Evolutif label in 2002. Subsequent discussions about a split release never came to fruition, but 2009 found them once again pooling their energies and initiating a year-long process of file exchanges that now finds its way into the world as Offtempo.

Their voices blend together remarkably well, so much so that without knowing otherwise one would assume that what is being presented is the work of a single player, albeit one armed with the gear necessary to generate multiple layers of tremolo effects, loops, and textural shadings. Offtempo is anything but a gunslinging session; instead, the guitarists truly collaborate on creating a rich and delicately woven soundworld where their voices complement one another and their contributions blend into a whole greater than the parts. Listeners with a taste for ambient guitar-based moodscaping will find the release especially satisfying.

“Jazz F2B” is hardly jazz but rather five minutes of creeping drone atmospherics that shudders and shimmers broodingly; “Walz,” on the other hand, does use 3/4 time as a springboard for the duo's explorative forays, while “Rita” is suitably supplicating in tone. A hint of post-rock emerges during “Untitled3” in the form of a plodding cymbal pattern and burning atmospherics that point the duo's material a little bit in the direction of Nadja and thisquietarmy. Though still relatively peaceful in nature and tempo, “Pool” smolders and snarls a tad more ferociously as it cultivates an air of spectral wonderment.

Offtempo is also an interesting set on sequencing grounds. With one exception, each track is slightly longer than the one before, and consequently the recording's first six pieces set the stage for the album's ultimate and most powerful piece, “Séquences inversées,” a seventeen-minute epic of ethereal beauty. As wave upon billowing guitar wave rolls in, it's hard not to be reminded of Popul Vuh's equally unearthly Aguirre soundtrack and to think that “Séquences inversées” could be conjoined rather seamlessly to the Popul Vuh work. Monnard and Attwood's slow-burning colossus brings this consistently strong collaborative effort to a stunning conclusion.