Rale 'Some Kissed Charms That Would Not Protect Them' LP (Isounderscore, 2011), Secret Pyramid 'The Silent March' CS C36 (Nice Up Int'l, 2011)

I've been away from the blogosphere as of late thanks to summer weather resulting in extended weekend camping trips and beach excursions. However, a new batch of material has propelled me back in. Currently working on a handful of reviews that should keep me busy for the rest of the summer, three for Dusted including a new outing by Barn Owl on Thrill Jockey, some spellbinding stuff from Western Vinyl + and/OAR including a triple cd set by Luigi Turra. Also, new material from Ian Holloway over at Quiet World and work by Jon Porras that's raised the bar once again. Stay tuned.

Rale 'Some Kissed Charms That Would Not Protect Them' LP
(Isounderscore, 2011)

William Hutson, aka Rale has been steadily releasing music since 2007, mostly via tape. In the past he's released on fine labels such as ekhein, monorail trespassing, cavelife, and peasant magik, this album marking only his second foray into vinyl – the first being 2009's Whispering Gallery 12" on Arbor. Hutson's musical style is perhaps easily understood as a muted analog noise, often quite minimal, though usually containing enough tactile crackle and self directed ingenuity to distinguish him from the Eliane Radigue copycats.

Hutson's work has remained consistent over the years, and Some Kissed Charms... is clearly one of his most controlled offerings. However, at a mere 29 minutes, the potential for grandeur is somewhat stunted by the album's length. All the elements of a good album are here: the patient dips and dives into sonic isolationism, book-ended drone passages followed by uneasy silences, and subtly crackling field recordings laid atop Keith Berry style dreamscapes, but what we are left with is yet another well orchestrated tease, and not the half-decade opus I was expecting from Hutson and his Rale project.

If Hutson can expand on what he's created here, I wouldn't be surprised to see that opus come to fruition, and fit nicely alongside works by synth behemoths Bee Mask, Forma, and Mist on the Spectrum Spools label. Although truthfully, Rale's low profile has served well thus far, though I can't help but feel that his work needs more recognition. This is an essential 2011 purchase (as short as it is), housed in a deluxe blue jacket with striking silver stamped titles and art.

Secret Pyramid 'The Silent March' CS C36
(Nice Up International, 2011)

Awesome to see new work by fellow Vancouverite and friend Amir Abbey, who makes music under the guise Secret Pyramid. This is easily the best work I've heard from the man – and that includes all of the handful of Solars' releases, who are now, unfortunately, defunct. The Silent March consists of a number of short tracks, which suits the Secret Pyramid style well, as Abbey shows off a variety of guitar based styles like shoegaze, ambient, drone, and neofolk. Flying Saucer Attack , Barn Owl, and My Bloody Valentine are obvious comparisons, but I also hear a Stars of the Lid element in a lot of the more minimal movements along with Tim Hecker on the second track, and probably most of all, the German guitar drone two-piece Troum (though I'm not sure if he would site them as an influence).

Personally – and my bias is surely going to shine through here – the best tracks on the album are the more nuanced ambient movements, as opposed to the heavier shoegazy ones. There is, however, no disjointedness between stylings because the transitions between tracks are flawless, and the movements are mercurial enough in their own right. Jangling bells on the B side feel a bit cliche, or maybe I just feel they went out with early Six Organs and James Blackshaw albums, though that's a minor miss step in an album that's both a sprawling epic and a great achievement. Someone release this on vinyl! Great stuff.

Outside by Secret Pyramid

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