Boomkat Product Review:
Totally unmissable debut full-length of free-floating ambient dream sequencing and avant garde percussion from pivotal NYC producer/sound artist Britton Powell for Brooklyn’s Catch Wave Ltd. - label behind 2016’s prized Dominique Lawalrée compilation as well as last year’s mind-melter from Leila Bordreuil.
Emerging as a real one-to-watch with ‘If Anything Is’, Britton Powell takes the spotlight with a unique conception of ambient music following his shadowy but key roles on some of our favourite releases of recent years; ranging from the liner notes in Recital’s sublime RIP Hayman side ‘Dreams of India and China’, to production coordination on Jon Hassell’s ‘Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)’, and also for Catch Wave Ltd’s releases by Dominique Lawalrée and Leila Bordreuil, as well as working with everyone from Warp Records to Jon Gibson, Lucy Railton, and Huerco S.
With his remarkable first solo release Powell finely distills themes of “psycho-acoustic phenomena, minimalism, and traditions of non-western music” central to his work across two sides that evoke a paradoxical state of seat-edge serenity related to psychic symptoms of hyper-reality and capitalism. Field recordings from Jonáš Gruska and percussion supplied by George Bennett are rendered as richly detailed, organic elements in his billowing sound sphere, elegantly enacting a meditation on the intersection of technology, ritual, and urban landscape that makes up everyday life in the Big Apple and surely resonates with city lives lived across the world.
In both parts he vacillates massive swells of stereo swept percussion and keening location sound, beautifully suspending the senses between feelings of paranoia from an insectoid scuttle of drums, and the seductively heavy-lidded appeal of his hypnagogic sound design and immersive aural scenery. If this is a collision of disparate elements, as the label calls it, then it’s one of slow motion Ballardian sensuality, glacially ravishing the mind with a push and pull between heady, lump-in-throat lushness and a subtle sense of needling dread.