Christina Vantzou: No. 1 (Kranky)
The other half of The Dead Texan, an ambient duo that also included Adam Wiltzie of Stars of the Lid, presents her first full-length of solo compositions. Wiltzie helps out on production, and it shows — the mixing of these recordings and the overall feeling of them is similar to output from Stars of the Lid or any of their various offshoots from the past ten years. Compared to Wiltzie’s latest project A Winged Victory for the Sullen, these pieces are more patient and slight. They perhaps recall the vague slow motion of The Tired Sounds of the Stars of the Lid more than any other comparison, with string arrangements undulating slowly with subtle but effective touches of electronics and production tweaks. Only occasionally does something more immediate break through, like the final strides of “Super Interlude Pt. 2” or the swell of “Adversary,” the latter of which is preceded by a wonderfully dark swarm of drones, sounding almost David Lynchian. There’s a nice added level of subtlety in field recordings and samples that are often obscured by the main music score, running underneath or overhead buried in effects that obscure the source while lending the pieces an added layer of complexity. One thing that sets No. 1 apart from some of Vantzou’s collaborators’ releases it that all of its pieces feel united as one broad idea, never fully pausing between tracks and instead segueing seamlessly. It’s slow and beautiful, evolving and shifting like shapes in the clouds.