Har, Into the Maelstrom, Vol. 1: The Tower By Night

As part of his weekly Nightscaping show on StillStream, Har  regularly performs live dark ambient improvisations. Luckily for us, he records them and has started releasing them as part of his Into the Maelstrom series. The Tower By Night is the first release, a live session that aired in November 2011. As Har notes, “It was performed entirely on his 8-string electric guitar, an extended-range instrument with two additional bass-range strings along with the other typical six guitar strings. A variety of playing techniques are used including two-handed tapping as well as treating the guitar as a kind of percussion instrument.” Pushing the sounds through heavy, real-time processing and looping, Har crafts an hour-long, very un-guitarlike flow of  improv creations that wind their way in and out of dark-ish spaces. At points, particularly later in the piece, it can be downright calming–but only after you’ve made your way through more challenging passages. (The stretch that begins to roil around the 19-minute mark and grinds grimly forward for four or five minutes is a good example, particularly the way it dissipates into a softer moment.) Har modulates the ride well throughout the hour, his scene changes effected without the slightest bump. New tones slip in almost unnoticed before they move to the forefront and re-direct the flow. Because Har never drives the flow into the sort of cloying sonic abyss that typifies dark ambient, there’s never anything to pull you out of the flow. The shadows most certainly find their way into both the flow and the listener, but it’s so subtle and organic that you don’t push back. It’s a guided tour, not you being tugged into Hell. This is a release that you just give yourself over to. You’re in good hands, and Har delivers you back from your own inner-world excursion in one piece.

Available from CD Baby.

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