Although this mini-disc release is only two tracks and just over 20 minutes long, Korea-based composer Fescal fills it with vividly detailed drones. The tracks are inspired by a pair of Alexandr Pushkin poems. “Winter Morning” arrives with a base drone formed out of a processed organ chord (with, quite honestly, a touch of the bagpipe to it) and a drifty vocal loop. At times they pair nicely; at others they feel almost in conflict, and this creates an interesting dynamic as the piece moves along. “Winter Evening” comes across as the warmer and lighter of the two, and is easier to connect with. There’s a simpler grace to it and a more distinct harmony of elements. The contrast is pleasing. Two Winter Poems is a work of very straight-up drone; its shifts arrive lazily and make just enough difference to nudge itself into a place that’s just subtly different. Changes in tone and texture slide in under the radar before making themselves noticeable. The movement, or lack thereof, is appropriately hypnotic, yet a focused listen reveals a fair amount of work going on. There are points where the sound rises in tone to border on a near-feedback squeal, but it never crosses the line into being an unpleasant noise. For the quick hit this release is, that one slight shrug for me as a listener doesn’t detract from an interesting ride.
Kudos also to Fescal for committing to a unique bit of packaging. Each of the limited-edition physical discs comes with an illustration by artist Mark Coates, a small plastic bag containing bush twigs from which Korean traditional tea can be made (I haven’t made mine yet, but I will), a small photo of a statue of Pushkin and an old small age-old folk page booklet, plus some unique “extra whatchamacallits” thrown in for good measure. (Mine had candy and shiny metallic leafs.) This all comes in a small, well-made box, and truly adds a personal touch.
Available from Fescal’s web site.