You certainly wouldn’t know it from listening, but every sound on Deserts, the debut release from Jalisco, is made from processed AM radio transmissions. Musician Dave Bush manipulates his source material into wispy, long-hanging drones in a pair of matched-length (20:03) minimalist pieces. The work is appropriately sparse, almost to the point of seeming a little static at times. Bush overcomes this by occasionally folding in voices or gently ramping up touches of industrial-tinged rhythmic elements. Changes come like checkpoints as we’re guided across this to-the-horizon vista, and the slow-moving repetition that underscores both pieces does have a hypnotic quality to it. “Desert Two” has a slightly more dynamic quality to it at the outset, but before its halfway mark thins down to a steady low pulse that will absolutely nudge your brain toward flatlining. A repeating phrase on chime-like tones rises up to assist. Deserts doesn’t do much for me as an open-air listen. I’ve tried, but Bush has his stuff dialed so far down it doesn’t rise above background noise. This is much more of a headphone experience. It’s only there that you’ll get the full effect of Bush’s textural work. And, honestly, it took me a couple of listens to come around to the sort of patience I think you need to appreciate these two pieces. They certainly take their time, but in the long run they manage to be engaging. Strap up, settle in, and take the 40 minutes (and 6 seconds) needed to tour these Deserts. The view is pretty nice.
Available from the Jalisco web site.