Somewhere in the middle of finding my way through Talvihorros’ Descent Into Delta I became aware that while I could not say for sure whether experimental guitarist Ben Chatwick knew exactly where he was headed when he set out on this disc, it was clear that wherever he was going, I was following. Descent Into Delta began life as live guitar improvisations which were then revived and augmented in the studio. The fives pieces here manage to maintain that sense of in-the-moment rawness, of existing in a given form only at the whim of the composer, likely to bend into some new shape at the change of a chord. Thematically, Chatwick looks to move the listener from a musical approximation of an agitated or very active mental state–a Gamma state–into the dream-deep, near-flat-line calm and chasms of a Delta state. The journey moves quickly, given that the disc is only about 40 minutes long, but Chatwin’s thick and heavy drones grind time into an exaggerated length. The movement is logical. The static-blasted drone of “Gamma” buzzes its way through your head before segueing smoothly into “Beta,” perhaps my favorite track here. Chatwin works his way through a slow-motion post-rock melody, slowly dialing up the guitar’s distortion until it just takes over the sound. Still the song goes on, spiking levels and all, before Chatwin lets it scrape its way back down. “Alpha” turns the flow more abstract, crackling electronics sparking over grunts of low-end chord structures that sound like they’re striving to find form. Order asserts itself tenuously amid the chaos and the sound hesitantly quiets down. This deposits the listener in the “Theta” state, a dreamy meld of sounds and sensations–garage-rock windmill flails churn intermittently against long, shimmering drone-chords while a low hum massages your back-brain. Coherence begins to fade to hypnagogic meandering as the brain spins in fuzzy spirals downward into delta. The final track opens with a deep bass drone that wavers ever so slightly. The hush happens immediately. Sparse picked notes glimmer in the dark flow as it envelops your brain. Viola from Anais Lalange makes the perfect complement to Chatwin’s gentle structure. This is one of those give-yourself-over tracks that will take you fully out of your reality for a short time, and ends the voyage perfectly.
Strong guitar ambient from Chatwin, Descent Into Delta is most definitely worth a deep listen. It loops nicely and Chatwin’s technical mastery is evident in every note, buzz, grind and flow.
Available from the Talvihorros web site.