Boomkat Product Review:
Smouldering synthscapes, smudged with chiaroscuro traces of country and drone music, by Mike Grabarek’s Location Services with Beacon Sound regular Derek Hunter Wilson
“'Wake' is a distillation and reflection of the work of three Portland musicians thrown, like the rest of the world, into forced isolation by the continually-mutating curse of a natural world in disequilibrium. The product of involuntarily inward-looking emotional landscapes, Wake emerged sounding surprisingly expansive and confident. The trio uses a variety of instruments –including harp, fretless bass, piano, and a variety of synthesizers– to conjure sparkling panoramas of the imagination that are deep-pooled and impressionistic, bracing yet meditative.
Mike Grabarek and Joshua Ward have performed together for years as a duo under the moniker of Location Services, while Derek Hunter Wilson has primarily worked as a solo composer in the classical realm. For the 'Points Of No Return' compilation, Beacon Sound's 50th release and a benefit for the Beirut Musicians Fund, they recorded a collaborative piece entitled 'Interdependence In Solitude' (included here as a bonus track with each digital copy) that was so promising the label offered to release an album if they continued down the path they had started upon. The resulting eight songs are a mesmerizing, sometimes-intense voyage.
Made during a period of change and upheaval in the world and society when most people were disconnected from each other, 'Wake' is the product of a collage-like dialogue built on trust and patience. While the three musicians couldn’t physically be together for much of this time, they began sending musical ideas to one another in a conversational back-and-forth that acted as an anchor of stability – something they found they could turn to and depend on when things felt uncertain elsewhere. This comfort zone led to some transcendent moments of experimentation. 'Delicate Need', for example, features recordings of exaggerated pizzicato that were sampled and then run back through processing effects, which were then subsequently performed live over the original track. As things became less risky on the Covid front, they would occasionally meet for backyard rehearsals. Indeed, a recording of one of these rehearsals became the basis for the opening track and first single 'Photo Aware’.”