dreamSTATE vs. Heiki: The North Shore

WebYou have to love it when a semi-plan comes together. As part of preparations for the kickoff of dreamSTATE’s Drone Cycle 2012 shows, the Toronto-based duo and sound artist Heiki Silaste droned their way through a couple improvised sets “in deep-winter mode.” Listening to the prep sessions later, Silaste declared that he wanted to mix part of it (along with Kris Helstrom), while  Scott M2 of dreamSTATE took on the other rehearsal sessions as well as the Drone Cycle concert itself. What you the listener get out of all this is the cold, deep, and enveloping drone-space environs of The North Shore. The centerpiece of the disc is the 40-minute “Ice Flow,” a shifting epic of drone curving its way in and out of shadow, including short stretches of upward-arcing pads that wind their way out of some quite-deep sonic caverns. There is, to mix phrases somewhat, a great patient dynamic at work. Moments are created out of raw material that change the timbre of the voyage without losing its constant edge. Stretches of time melt away as these artists cull fresh sounds out of their gear and ease the thing along. Subtle beats, whining curls of electronic spatter, and whisper-hiss breezes form the atmosphere. “Ice Flow” alone is reason enough to get this disc. The other three tracks each have their own distinct character while dovetailing perfectly into the overall feel. “Snow Drifting” begins with big, comparatively soft ambient pads, edging toward a less comfortable space as the piece nears its end. “Expedition” picks up that darkening feel; a low-end drone stretches time across a sparse landscape of sound. Choral pads and rising wind fill in the details. The closing track, “Winter Light,” rises up out of “Ice Flow” with a growl, then eases off its rough texture to reveal, in title-appropriate fashion, a slightly brighter and calmer character. There’s a nice balance of warm and cold here, the latter brought in with that persistent low-range drone, the former in the high tones.

This is a great batch of minimalist, immersive drone, and you’re going to get lost in it. It’s a fantastic headphone listen, giving the subtler details more substance. The mix of mesmerizing drone and underpinnings of uncertainty and shadow works very well. You can relax with this disc, but you’re always aware of the edges. The way each piece evolves carries the feel of the organic movement of an improvised piece, with no mis-steps to impede the flow. Let this one loop for hours.

Available from Paper + Sound.

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