microphones in the trees: ron ~ material progress

Saturday, August 04, 2018

ron ~ material progress

"Material Progress" highlights the continued efforts of Portland, OR duo RON to divest from cluttered composition and heavy handed catharsis. Seeking space and and urging patience, RON unfolds each piece in a cloth-like manner. Laukkanen (autoharp, Juno, effects) & Wenc (pedal steel, synths, effects) peak at a world unquantized, without calculation. What happens if we were still? Certainly, similar sentiments have been probed within the canon of new age and drone music before. With their latest, RON pries open the door a little further, with new found confidence, patience, and curiosity. ~ lobby art

Music on cassettes is always mesmerizes when it sounds like it was born on tape. No high frequencies, not really wide range, kind of underwater sound... If you follow this blog, you know what we mean here. There's always something special about music drowned in that hiss, feeling of distance and comfort at the same time. Yet, most of all genres, drone music fits the cassette format best - exactly because of that hiss. Dominance of low-to-mid frequencies tends to sound flat, but the presence of tape hiss expands the experience. Seems weird that thing which was driving people crazy now serves as the compliment or even aesthetic element, but that's the way it is now. When virtually any genre of music sounds so well-produced, lo-fi cassette drone stands out as something completely otherworldly. Did you ever encountered situations when you listen to some lo-fi stuff for hours and then switch to something else and it hits like the bright artificial light after the pleasant gloaming? Remarkable, isn't it? 

What RON duo does on this tape is definitely pleasant, heady in a good way, gently enveloping mixture of guitar drones filled with delay meanderings and minimalist melodies. When you look at sun during the day it's painful, but the sundowns and sunrises are always pleasant and unfolding many nuances. That's the way this music works - it shows infinite amount of details in a seemingly simple sound. That's kind of odd to realize that blurry music can sharpen the perception, but miraculously it does. Turn the volume down, do some errands and all you'll get is muffled background (which sometimes is well-needed too), but listen to it attentively and you'll get the full story. It never stays the same, it's changing all the time. Like water surface, like leaves on the trees. One step closer and you're surrounded by beauty. This scale changing music has it's own hidden dimensions which unfolds even when you think you know it, because every listening gives some new details. Whether it's the magic of cassette format or the virtue of the music itself – it's hard to tell. Probably it's both. The only flaw of this album is its duration, but gladly there's repeat button on my deck. 

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