Astral Spirits

Sometimes it’s all about internal processes, which do not necessarily rhyme with “obeying to the laws of common aesthetics”.

Andrew Smiley’s Dispersal is a single 27-minute piece inspired by wolves and their constant struggle for survival. The relationship is not obvious, if not by thinking of this music as an effort to extract nourishment from dire acoustic conditions.

For some aspects, it’s a rather brutal statement in its (apparent) lack of refinement. You will not find normal “chords” herein; the rare melodies are splintered and rusty; the vocals – when existing, for large sections of the track do not include them – consist of nude and almost expressionless “aaahs” obliquely looking at the products of the electric guitar.

The latter is handled by focusing on the residual materials derived from unconventional picking techniques: crusty twangs, noisy scrapes, sparkling harmonics. Mini-structures appearing from nowhere get soon pulverized, the outcome occasionally interspersed with frail arpeggios; Smiley’s exaltation of minuscule components amidst more intense discharges made us think of a purification cycle.

And also connected the memory with Gary Smith’s ever-underrated manipulations of similar sources.

It’s a unique album. You may not like it at all, or become an instant fan. I found it interesting enough to listen to it several times for a better comprehension of the artist’s ideas. Not aware of the bands and projects quoted in the liners – and having never deepened the acquaintance with My Bloody Valentine – my mind was evidently ready to greet this one without further ceremonies.

So, welcome to Andrew Smiley’s introvert world. Make sure to leave him a thank you note at the end, because his honest bravery deserves it.

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