Pearson Constantino, Re@

Finding a point of entry into Pearson Constantino’s Re@ may not be easy for some. It wasn’t, for me. In the first two tracks, “Reach” and “Fast, Slower, Not Worth It,” the listener has blockades of chopped, sliced and spliced sounds to contend with. In “Reach” it’s the way some sounds are hacked into flying slivers and placed against shining guitar chords; in “Fast…” it’s Constantino’s tight drumming, which apparently has another song in mind as it forces itself over a meandering guitar melody. Push past these (if you’re not a big experimental fan) and you end up at the watery tremolo of “Dai.” This is somewhat more familiar ground for ambient listeners, but don’t get comfy. Even as the ride smooths out and Constantino lets things get a little less alien, it’s never simple–and this is good. Case in point, right after “Dai” comes “Push,” a 90-second rush of manic drumming and sound–which drops off once again into (comparatively) quieter spaces with “Wyoming.” But listen here and you’ll note the sandpapery edges of Constantino’s drones, a carefully piloted overmodulation of sound that picks up texture from cool, jazzy drums. So while it’s relaxing, it’s not relaxing. The highlight track for me is “M366,” where sounds seem to ring backwards and a computerized whisper half-buried in white noise pleas for a lost love. It’s surprisingly heartbreaking and beautiful. Constantino’s simple guitar work complements the feel perfectly, particularly toward the end where it becomes forthrightly folksy. “Windows, Open, Rain” is a strong ambient track; Constantino starts out edged and rasping, then files it down to a long drone before adding the textures back in. (A brief interlude from a vocal sample adds an odd-but effective element.) With “Goodbye, Nice Flight” the artist shows he can just let a soft drone be its own thing and let it carry a feeling.

Re@ is by no means an easy listen, but it rewards those who stick with it. There’s a lot to listen to and a lot to work out in your head. Constantino’s wanderings into experimental territory never go so far afield that you worry he won’t come back. There’s always a sense of well-anchored intent and a focused thematic drive behind the work. This one will sit better with listeners who need to be at least near the edge, but it’s also worth a listen for the curious.

Available at EarSnake.

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