1. Pyre Nullity 68:12
Brian Lavelle is a Scottish musician who has been active for more than fifteen years creating music with a variety of electronic devices. His compositions showcase resonant and textural layers of digital material, drones and processed field recordings.
His most famous works are probably the "Radios" series, composed along with Richard Youngs, but we can't help mentioning his wonderful "How To Construct a Time Machine" guitar suite released by Staalplaat's subsidiary Bake Records and "fault/r", released on Microwave Records back in 2000.
Brian was a member of Inversion along with Alistair Crosbie and together with him and Murray Johnston he was also involved in No Input, a one-off improvising trio. Between 2000 and 2003 he curated the techNOH online mp3 label.
Afe released Brian Lavelle's "A Stuffed Crocodile" way back in 2001 and is now extremely proud to present his new work entitled "Ustrina".
"Ustrina" follows a surge of increased activity over the last two years with highly regarded releases such as "Just a Song at Twilight" (Dust, Unsettled, 2006), "Fallen Are the Domes of Green Amber" (Diophantine Discs, 2007) and "Supernaturalist" (EE Tapes, 2008).
"Ustrina" consists of a single long-form work entitled "Pyre Nullity", which is a set of dense, shifting cloudscapes, perhaps a little darker in focus than Lavelle's last few releases and certainly his longest single composition to date.
Its layers of ghostly, distant voices, subterranean drones and processed field recordings evoke forgotten realms, but this is not dark ambient music.
Its compositional approach, subject matter and photographic imagery all point to hidden places, memories from a Golden Age cast on the fire, but not necessarily the darker side of existence.
Indeed the cover suggests a possible modus operandi: cross the bridge, open the gate, move within.
The album utilises compositional ideas which date back to the mid 1990s, but which were not realised until very recently.
Within the layers of "Pyre Nullity" are electronic passages from certain recordings over a decade old, previously unreleased and now reworked, rejuvenated and redefined.
"...This drone based long track shows the incredible strength of proportions and the importance of balance, infact this sixtyeight minutes circa suite could be dead boring but ends being absorbing and fascinating instead. While being a little bit darker than many of the Lavelle's output I've heard so far, it has nothing to do with dark ambient, it's lulling and someway narcoleptic and summed up with a couple of other characteristics it brings to my mind DJ Olive's "sleep" work on Room40, I'm tented to say the two releases are similar and equally as catchy... The pictures and the whole layout are great and I think from the front cover to the last page they give the impression of this environment Lavelle wanted to re-create. So the question is if we have to cross or not the bridge we see on the front cover...? By the way, from the dead leaves it's easy to imagine an autumnal landscape, if you add the melancholic atmosphere of this work it's hard to deny that's not a joyful marriage."
Chain D.L.K. [more]
"...Anche Brian Lavelle si muove nel nuovo "Ustrina" su atmosfere e territori paralleli. Un'unica traccia dal titolo "Pyre Nullity" lo pervade dall'inizio alla fine, con un incipit appena più luminoso ma che scivola lentamente, come in un denso spostamento di nuvole, verso lidi sempre più fitti e stratificati. Attraversamenti, movimenti, slittamenti di passaggi interiori che si perdono fino a confondersi nel paesaggio esterno..."
Blow Up [more]
"As quickly as the CD comes on and the sound enters into your brain the vibe is evident. Brian Lavelle's "Ustrina," which features only one sixtyeight minute track titled "Pyre Nullity", seems almost weightless. The sounds drift like fog slowly coming down a mountain as the sun gently comes up. It seems to hint at some kind of unconscious experience, like sleepwalking. The sounds hover over you so slowly that you almost don't even realize they are there... "Pyre Nullity" reminds me of a dream that I'm sure a number of people have had; a dream where you are searching for something but you never know what it is you are looking for so you just keep looking only to never find anything... In the press release for "Ustrina" Lavelle sums it up nicely: "cross the bridge, open the gate, move within"..."
Foxy Digitalis [more]
"Impressionante l'opera monolitica di Brian Lavelle, settanta minuti in crescendo lieve e morbido da un'ambient quasi godibile, dai tratti sereni e distesi (vengono in mente Namlook e la sua Fax) per poi inasprirsi lentamente, molto lentamente, sempre più, fino ad arrivare a livelli di sperimentazione dissonante che inchiodano alla sedia dalla seconda metà in poi, in cui ci si abissa sempre più fino ad arrivare al discioglimento totale dei sensi. Un lavoro difficile ed articolato, degno forse del miglior Lustmord..."
Sound and Silence [more]
"At almost seventy minutes in length "Ustrina" from Scots dronist Lavelle is a significant investment of time and focus on both the part of the composer and the listener. Lavelle operates predominantly in the realms of warm and slightly fuzzy drone music. Narcotic tones and washes that gently shroud the audience with a vaguely clammy sense of unease. You've got to admit that's an enticing prospect especially as Lavelle is very, and I do mean very, accomplished at this sort of thing. Like a darker version of Chalk and Heeman's Mirror project, "Ustrina" is one of the best things I've heard from this side of Lavelle (the other side specialises in superbly forceful psychedelic cosmic-drone) and should be sort out without delay..."
Wonderful Wooden Reasons [more]
"Brian Lavelle is a Scottish sound artist who is releasing music since 1996... On "Ustrina" he creates one long soundscape (with a different track title, "Pyre Nullity") of around 68 minutes. The track uses a lot of deep drones to great effect. The music sounds very spacey, with here and there industrial elements. It's actually quite a brilliant sound work that doesn't bore through its entire duration... A vastly immersive soundscape which evolves around your ears and takes you to a dark and spacey dream place... A must own!"
"..."Ustrina" is Lavelle first full length album on the always rewarding Italian based Afe label. The album is made up of one long piece of light descending to dark drone work entitled "Pyre Nullity", which lasts just shy of the 70 minute mark. The piece starts off fairly bright, clean and active in it's rich harmonic drone plates, which are surrounded by fairly rapid descending tones which at times give the feeling moving on quite fast or falling. This more glowing and sun warming feel goes on for the first twenty minutes or so then slowly but surely the piece turns slower, more dark and murky as Lavelle very gradually slows the piece pulse down and the light tones are replaced by more shadowy and expansive gloomy drones. As the track darkens slows and greys Lavelle introduces a slow juddering tone, haunting slow monition grim bell circles, traces of backward matter, ominous bird chirps which all give the track quite a creepy and disturbing feel. It all very much fits the wonderful cover photographs of autumn leaf covered landscapes; as it feels almost like your following the life of a dying leaf; first your on a tree in the warming lush sunlight, then you fall off the tree descending to the ground and then start to rot and decaying with other leafs. It certainly gets more organic, bleak and earthy as it goes on indicating the leaf's slow rot and breakdown. "Ustrina" is a very accomplished long form piece of shifting and descending drone work that's cleverly and dramatically layered with subtle field recording elements. With Lavelle creating a very rewarding descent from warming and active drone matter to darker and more sinister drone emissions."
Musique Machine [more]
"La forza di questi field recordings vecchi dieci anni (come nel miglior Basinski), e delle loro stratificazioni in droni sta nella proporzione e nell'equilibrio che delineano una continuità perenne fatta di slittamenti, passaggi che galleggiano, decomposizioni, dissonanze e sedimenti di suono. Sembra esser stato composto in stato di sonnambulismo, l'ultimo lavoro dello scozzese Brian Lavelle licenziato dall'italiana Afe Records... Suoni per spazi profondi e imperscrutabili verso i quali dirigersi grazie a un lento e denso spostamento orizzontale..."