Droning and honing

Apr 12, 2000 at 12:00 am

Humans play the strangest things. Aeons after femur flutes and tibia drumsticks, we have samplers, electronics and rock ‘n’ roll tools put to the task of unlocking the primordial. What has always been here becomes audible – again. Though from John Cage onward – through Morton Subotnick, David Behrman and Brian Eno – the sounds (from your speakers) going out the window overlay and blend with the noises of the summer evening coming in: night birds, crickets, raincloud rumblings, the far-horizon sundown throb.

On Depths, their previous release, local ambient specialists Windy & Carl mixed a densely poetic, electrified latticework of textures with resonant vocals to call up images of a rushing, pulsing seaworld. Now, on their new release, the vocals are gone – and Windy Weber (bass guitar) and Carl Hultgren (guitar, guitar loops, bass guitar) are joined by Greg Gasiorowski (electronics, sampling) in a purely instrumental project called Five Way Mirror. The sounds are a bit different, too.

Where Depths had an almost frightening, ocean-as-heavy industry feel, Transcendence spreads out, leaving room for more focus on detail. The highs and lows of the sonic backdrop on "Playing Out Obscurity," for instance, keep you hearing first one thread then another until it all settles way down into your body. Eventually the gravity pull gets to be something like John Carpenter’s score for his version of The Thing, with distinct echoes of Eno.

"Transparent Speech" starts with something like a water bell, and then shows such exquisite control of polyrhythms and subtle sonics that it all adds up to tonal haiku. And the two-part "Sleeping to Technology" couldn’t have a more appropriate name, the ocean’s depths here trading places with the tides of a dream: Part one is pure broiling reticence, invaded by the songs of flying things and distant memories – part two, a kind of peaceful panic attack.

Though things change and things fall apart, the new incarnation of Windy & Carl takes us further, deeper.