Lawrence English & Stephen Vitiello: Acute Inbetweens (Crónica)
Owner of Australian label Room40 Lawrence English collaborates on this full-length with another ambient-experimental performer, New York-based Stephen Vitiello. Neither is new to the field of drone music, but this is their first collaboration, and my own personal first exposure to Vitiello’s work. The album is divided into 5 tracks, and as its title suggests, it appears to be very much about suggestions of sound and the textures and tones that decay in between more obvious moments. Both artists have a history of abstracting sound; from what I can tell in the press release (Vitiello again being new to me), his focus is environmental and field recordings, abstracting them into drones and atmospheres that sound removed from the source, whereas English typically works with more acoustic instruments and electronics to create his own textures and fields of color. The marriage of the two approaches is seamless, and you’d never know that these recordings are the result of across-the-globe collaborations via file-sharing. The title is wholly appropriate given the nebulous nature of most of these pieces. The result is often out of focus, shapeless fields of sound, with occasional intrusions. “Soft Plastic Shell” includes strange oscillator noise cutting in and out of the mix, while “Tickled Inside” begins with a stark series of tones that crackle with tension. But mostly these pieces are somewhat serene, even when they evoke tension… their obliqueness allows them to glide by like a distant storm, and I’m able to appreciate its murky beauty from the comfort of my own seat.