Mike Shiflet & High Aura'd
Type has no lack of gorgeous, crackling ambient releases, but to be fair one more won't hurt 'em. With their entry for the label, Mike Shiflet and John Kolodij holed up in Kolodij's Rhode Island studio for a few days worth of improvised recording sessions; resulting in a wealth of barren, brittle guitar pieces that the pair fleshed out with field recordings post-session. Awake, the result of this session, finds both players deep in locked trance, etching meditative Zen patterns in stone, carving dread idols in blocks of ice. There's certainly a coldness to the album, and that's not just because I'm listening to it in weather that has a negative prefix, their guitars burn hot but each track lets the instruments steam like a runner just let out into the cold. Eerie halos of moisture steam up to the night skies, backlit by flickers of streetlamp that casts lingering shadows. The menace on Awake grows thicker the more the album wears on, with some albums there's usually a glimmer of hope in the din but Shiflet and Kilodij seem only to plunge the listener further towards the precipice of their songwriting. The one respite arrives with "Covered Bridge," though even its weary resolve seems more like resigning to fate than truly finding hope. In the end the listener feels pursued, petrified and overcome - but that's by no means a slight. These two wield dread like a glistening weapon and its oddly satisfying to let your knuckles turn white with each passing track.
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