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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Dialing In - 'Cows in Lye' (Pseudo Arcana)

The first Dialing In release I heard, Ketalysergicmetha Mother, was a shocking blast of ur-drone - when I was far past the tipping point of enjoying psychedelic drone, or so I thought. What a shockingly great record that was! Dialing In, a one-woman project from Seattle, somehow transcends the plethora of mediocre drone-swirl that was being made at the time this was released. 2006 was only six years ago, yet it somehow feels like so much has changed. Cows in Lye isn't exactly placid meditation music - it's active, and demanding in its horizontality. Dialing In plays with the contrast between something moving quite a lot and something moving hardly at all, and the rumbling disconnect of frequencies between. The formula is mostly unchanged throughout - a thick heavy base, a few layers of sounds pulling in different directions, mostly occupying isolated frequency bands - and a balance between chaotic and repetitious. There's something that happens throughout which is hard to describe, but gives Cows in Lye a warped, ethnic-music feel. Some of the higher, more active sonorities, particularly in cuts like 'City of Dogs', sound almost like a field recording of Indian street musicians - all melting shenhai's and other such Hindu horns. Herb Diamante guests on track two, with a long vocal rant which is similarly distant and untouchable - it lends the track a real 'Napoleon and Josephine' feel, and the words (a call to prayer, if we are to believe the title) slip and slide around direct meaning. In the length jam-out track, 'Thorazine Eclipse', a three-chord progression is felt in warm fuzzy synthpads, recalling familiar echoes of AM radio hits; though it's wordless, the cadence grounds the piece and it feels accessible. In some ways it's like a precursor to the whole hypnogogic pop thing that started happening soon after this; certainly Dialing In's peers would be the Skaters/James Ferraro, both in milieu, geography (the West coast is close enough) and construct. Cows in Lye throughout has that "mid-fi" feeling - there's enough of a dynamic spectrum to allow separation/clarity, though static unknowing is of course the raison d'ĂȘtre of this. As much leeway as any individual moment might have, there's something incredibly exact about this constructions, which is why it's so remarkable.