Michael Vallera - Window In Music Album Reviews

The Chicago guitarist and sound artist tucks worlds of deep feelings into these four immersive pieces, which seem to shift with your own mood.

Michael Vallera’s Window In is the ambient-music equivalent of a mood ring. The Chicago guitarist tucks microcosms of disparate sounds inside each of these four amorphous pieces—warm drones that unravel like deep sighs, creepy clicks that haunt like ghosts, curdled riffs that rush like dangerous rivers. They reflect what you bring to them, whether anxiety or hope. As menacing or majestic as you like, Window In is a timely reminder that it’s OK if your feelings are complicated, confounding, and subject to change. They’re all right here, bound inside 43 mesmerizing minutes.

In one form or another, Vallera has been pursuing a single idea—electric guitar processed to the point of oblivion—for at least a decade. He played on Rhys Chatham’s guitar-symphony masterpiece, A Crimson Grail, and formed the excellent duo Cleared with drummer Steven Hess, a fellow Chicago instrumentalist who fosters a sense of formless wonder. On his three previous solo albums, each more intriguing than the last, Vallera suspended bits of piano chords or broken beats inside clouds of brittle or beautiful guitar, shaping an unstable horizon that seemed always to inch nearer.

For Window In, Vallera limits himself to the electric guitar and anything he can use to interrupt, augment, warp, or otherwise ruin its output. The restriction is a boon, as Vallera has never before elicited such a wealth of sophisticated and ingenious sounds—or found such novel uses for old ones. “Hours” opens with a high-end hiss and a low-end growl, the extreme registers of his guitar simultaneously pushed to their limits. “Blue Mind” peaks when Vallera interrupts a resplendent tone over and over, so it constantly collapses only to rise again. It’s as if, by casually flipping a switch, he’s accidentally stumbled upon the idea of rhythm itself. In the past, Vallera has followed a distinguished tradition of guitarists reimagining their instrument’s textural edges; with these discoveries, he becomes part of the vanguard, like Keith Rowe or Christian Fennesz before him.

More important, though, is how Vallera nests, layers, and intertwines these elements, like Grouper or Kara-Lis Coverdale, so that they unspool in an emotionally rich listen; otherwise, they might remain arcane elements of mere sound design. During “Blue Mind,” Vallera conjures the pop of a guitar cable that refuses to stay plugged in, a mundane noise familiar to anyone who’s ever played an electric instrument. He surrounds those tiny jolts with coruscant notes and a purring hum. The effect is like staring out at a splendid ocean scene while reeling from seasickness. And midway through “Deep Sleeping Exit,” his guitar wafts like the smell of springtime lavender, at least until the amplifier seems to crumble beneath the signal’s power. It’s like watching a thunderhead cut short a picture-perfect picnic.

Outside of music, Vallera is a photographer whose frames capture a subtly altered reality, recalling both the astute framing of Alfred Stieglitz’s pictures and the backyard surrealism of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings in one shot. Stare at one of his exquisite stills long enough, and you’ll finally notice the distant threat of an approaching cloud, or the way shapes that seem orderly slowly reveal an underlying chaos. Window In captures the same essence—a seemingly simple image that asks more questions the longer you sit with it. There are times when Window In suspends you at the edge of an abyss, others when it lifts you skyward. Mostly, though, those states linger here together, ready to remind you that one feeling won’t last forever.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Michael Vallera - Window In Music Album Reviews Michael Vallera - Window In Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 Rating: 5

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