Boomkat Product Review:
Dane Law's latest is a serving of low-key magic put together with acoustic guitar samples and a semi-algorithmic Max/MSP patch. Somewhere between Oval, The Books/Zammuto and Matmos but more folk-inspired, it's affecting, unexpectedly warm material.
It's the physical sound of "blue forty-six" that makes it so special. By sampling acoustic guitar plucks but removing the fingerpicked squeaks and fretboard noise, Adam Parkinson (aka Dane Law) has reframed our perception of the omnipresent instrument, lending it the sonic characteristics of a harp, a koto, or a kora. He began the process so he could create a Max patch that would he could improvise with, semi-algorithmically. Once the notes were recorded, he began assembling the tracks, inspired by books about polar exploration and the arctic wilderness. This landscape offers "blue forty-six" its horizon, and its hard to listen to Parkinson's jerky but incredibly beautiful sounds without conjuring up mental visions of ice sheets, blizzards and hidden Lovecraftian nightmares.
Highlighting specific tracks is an almost pointless process; the album is a single idea ruthlessly explored in slightly different ways on each track. Thinking of it another way, it plays like a solo guitar album - by thinning out his options, Parkinson has created a level of focus that feels rigorous and almost academic. It's not a million miles away from Oval's underrated "Oh", an unashamedly computerized guitar study that attempted to bridge the gap between Markus Popp's notorious glitch experiments and Tortoise's emotive post-rock. But where Popp's approach was to scrub the sounds to almost sterile perfection, Parkinson is purposefully rougher; he admits that if you listen carefully, you might hear his cat or a radiator creaking under the notes.
This sense of humor gives "blue forty-six" a warmth and levity that reinforces its cascading chimes and bright, buzzy harmonics. Without focusing on the process, you might mistake the album for a lost psychedelic folk construction, a harpsichord jam or a set of icy dulcimer experiments. The joy is in the fine details; focus your ears and you'll get to experience Parkinson's vision in all its tundra-guided glory. You'll be lost in the white-out in no time.