You know how musicians are. They get a new toy and they just have to head into the studio to see what it does, then come out and share it with us. And that can be a very good thing. Case in point: Dan Pound picked up some new guitar effects and set about playing with them. Pound notes on his web site that “Using different guitars, effects, techniques and ideas, I was able to extrapolate a myriad of tonal timbres that resembled other instruments like organ, strings, oboes, bassoons and even human voices.” The result comes to us as Eros Thanatos, yet another beautiful work from this talented and prolific musician. As usual, Pound takes us through a changing vista where ambient, tribal and space music intertwine, offering rich melodies and curious sound-play, all spread out in excellent production that simply begs for the closest possible listen. Eros Thanatos exhibits a very good sense of flow. While Pound walks us through the changing scenes, the tracks meld one to the next without jostling, like a perfectly executed slow crossfade. Within the tracks there are smooth transitions, too–the way a sequencer rises against lush ambient pads in the opener, “From Love and Grace,” for example. The middle portion of this release runs particularly deep, beginning with the purely atmospheric tones of “Incarnate.” This borderline dark piece crawls into your head with small sounds skittering about and a slowly oscillating bass pulse marking time. It melts perfectly into the tribal-flavored “Shadow in the Dark,” which, with its twanging sequencer line and chant, packs a lot of Steve Roach influence. (Which is not to say it’s derivative–Pound’s work quite often exhibits an excellent tribal sense.) This is another piece with a smooth transition; the tribal elements lift slowly out of a stretch of pads that brighten like dawn, the first hint of change riding in on the call of a flute. When the sequencer hits, the track shifts to a new place and vibe, and the switchover–again–is seamless, sensible, and organic. Another aspect many of the tracks here show is a tendency to build toward a very big, full sound. Never bombastic, but just growing in intensity and depth. It amps up the emotional impact of the album overall. Finally, while most of the guitar sounds have been reconfigured by Pound’s various new toys, there are places where the unaltered sound shines through, and it adds a nice solidity to the proceedings. “Between Breaths” features a seductively lazy slide guitar amid a smoky tangle of electronics and the sharp rap of a tabla or clay pot. “From Beyond” opens with picked notes that gently fade off into an ambient backdrop.
Eros Thanatos continues Dan Pound’s streak of superb ambient releases. He’s always been one of those artists who’s very interested in constant redefinition of his style and has the confidence and skill to pull it off, whichever direction he decides to take. This is an album I have gladly looped for hours. There’s so much detail and so much beauty to take in, it’s worth repeated deep listens. A must-hear from Dan Pound.
Available from Dan Pound’s web site.