Guitar sounds and textures get put through a rigorous ambient workout in the new release, Scáth M’anam from I’ve Lost (aka Bobby Jones). The two-track disc opens with hour-plus, eight-part “I Wish I Could Fly.” Here Jones works his way through strata of emotion, going always deeper, the guitar sounds shifting appearance to match. It’s rarely a straightforward guitar sound, of course. For the most part it’s transformed into windy pads that skim off to the distance, rushes of sonic wind moving across the scene. It can also come through with a hint of menace, blood-thick low-end chords rumbling and grinding toward the listener. In one beautifully unexpected stretch it rings like a somber steel drum, the change in timbre a unique surprise in the flow. Something in the way Jones plays this section brings a sense of sacred music to mind. It’s some sort of reverence. Listen and see if you catch it. Field recordings under the sound and between the segments add another dimension of texture and interest. One more thing to keep you paying attention.
Jones’ stated intent is to keep a human feel in the music, a guard against the influx and influence of too much technology. When he does bring the guitar in to sound like itself, it’s played with stunning grace and feeling. In among the processed textures, it elevates that human-ness and amplifies the moments. There’s a soulful bit around the 22 minute mark. Slow-played chords gleam off the strings and into the air. Jones lets them hang and fade quietly. With about 10 minutes to go, coming out of a dark, growling space, Jones finds a place of pure rawness, the guitar taking on a fuzzed-out, far-echoing feel, a plaintive heart-cry that will absolutely resonate with every listener. This is the unfiltered sound of a pain we’ve all felt. Guttural chords close out the track even as those notes slide beneath them. Jones follows this journey with a gorgeous 8-minute piece, “Ghosts in the Wind,” where his guitar gets a chance to express itself in its true form. The juxtaposition with what’s come before pays off perfectly.
I’ve Lost is an artist to pay attention to. And Scáth M’anam is a disc you absolutely need to hear.
Available from Relaxed Machinery.