Colin Stetson - Chimæra I Music Album Reviews

Colin Stetson - Chimæra I Music Album Reviews
In two long, bassy, zoned-out compositions, the genre-defying saxophonist strains against the formal restrictions of drone music.

In his career as a soloist, Colin Stetson hasn’t redefined the saxophone so much as he has reinvented the saxophonist. His circular breathing technique, aided by a regimen of yoga and cardio, allows him to unleash seemingly endless waves of sound. By combining this technique with a series of contact mics placed around his instrument and on his throat, he has turned himself into a one-man band who, through extreme exertion and stamina, can simultaneously produce clacking percussion, thundering bass, and plangent melody. On a series of career-defining albums, Stetson performed the rare feat of establishing himself firmly outside of genre categories. Then, somewhat miraculously, he was able to translate his unique sound to the big screen. For his next trick, Stetson has confined himself within the formally restrictive boundaries of drone.

This is unmistakably a drone record, as Stetson deploys his saxophone in two bassy, zoned-out 20-plus-minute compositions. The thrill, and the frustration, of Chim​æ​ra I is watching as he strains against the confines of the genre. Stetson is not covering new ground so much as he is exploring territory already pioneered by Éliane Radigue, mapped by Pauline Oliveros, tamed by Stars of the Lid, and graffitied by Yellow Swans. Still, he welcomes drone’s limits as something to push back against: A genre defined by long, dense tracks presents itself as a challenge to a musician singularly invested in sustained physical performance. A drone produced by a tape loop, a synthesizer, or a guitar may be impressive; one produced by a saxophone is extraordinary.

Chim​æ​ra I is cinematic in scope, its two sides evoking windswept post-apocalyptic vistas. Their titles refer to the multi-headed guard dogs of Greek myth, Orthrus and Cerberus, whose chimerical monstrosity is indicative of each track’s harrowing atmosphere. “Orthrus” is the more timbrally exciting of the two, with shuddering creaks and groans that phase across one another. A third of the way into the song, thunderous roars arch over top as if something has been awoken within the cavern of sound. In a career that includes multiple landmark horror movie scores, this is some of the most frightening music Stetson has yet produced. “Cerberus” trades in unease rather than unfettered terror: Long shifting tones overlap and coalesce in a minimalist drone, as if the dust is settling after the tumult of the first side. If “Orthrus” aggressively piles up growling pulses, “Cerberus” smooths them out and carefully layers them. Despite their different approaches, the two tracks share an oppressive sense of claustrophobia.

It is a testament to Stetson’s stature as an instrumentalist that we expect to see him transcend classification with ease. In any other artist’s repertoire, Chim​æ​ra I would assuredly be a highlight—assuming it were possible for another musician to pull off its staggering physicality. In Stetson’s intimidating discography, though, the album feels like an experiment with limitations, an accomplished painter limiting themselves to blues and grays. In its dogged pursuit of one mood, the album forgoes much of what makes Stetson exciting: the fluttering pirouettes of melody that complement his pummeling low end, the acrobatic percussion that he kneads out of his saxophone’s keys, the surprising references to gospel music that humanize his mechanical prowess. As if gazing at a massive monotone mural, the listener is simultaneously overwhelmed and wistful for the artist’s expansive palette.
Share on Google Plus

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.
Colin Stetson - Chimæra I Music Album Reviews Colin Stetson - Chimæra I Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 24, 2022 Rating: 5


Post a Comment