This live recording from the 2015 Awakenings festival find Phobos (aka David Thompson) heading down into dark spaces and inviting us to join him. It’s an hour of minimal drone and thick textures, mostly cold and black as space. The main attraction here is the 44-minute “Awakening,” which showcases Thompson’s skill as a sonic guide. Although it dwells on the grimmer side of sound for the majority of its run, Thompson bends and shapes it through a strong variety of tones and textures. Early on there is some knob-twiddling that releases squibs of sound that push against the drone-wall beneath it; stretches of desolate wasteland get laid out before us in minimalist washes; and there are places where the darkness is quieter, and soothing. As he approaches the end, Thompson veers his tone up toward lightness and leads us into the 15-minute “Evening Sky.” Almost like a reprieve, this piece is pushed along on an easy, tapped-out rhythm and comforting pads. It is the essence of autumnal stargazing, captured in sound. The consistency of the rhythm pushes us toward a light trance state, and the warmth of Thompson’s pads is like the perfect blanket around us on this October evening. The closer, “Drift Away,” heads back into the shadows, but maintains a balance between dark and light.
While “Awakening” is going to appeal more to those who feed on darkness and drone, An October Evening is a full, immersive voyage that rewards any listener with a rich array of sound and feeling. It never goes full-on into an inaccessible darkness, but rather gives us that sensation of being out somewhere on a chilly, moonless night, in touch with or wary side, and still remembering to lift our eyes and drink in the expanse of starlight.
Available from Bandcamp.