Adam Basanta-from here to there in one straight line: Album Review

Adam Basanta is a Montreal-based artist who works both in the recorded music realm and the sound art installation side of town.  It seems that Basanta’s art projects have given him a unique aesthetic space to work with in his musical efforts.  Rather than always constructing a piece intended to be heard front to back, art installations find small pieces of sound in creative ways to later put on display.  When carrying this experience to his more intentionally composed music pieces, Basanta is still influenced by intriguing sound effects and textures.  Similarly to his last Kohlenstoff records release “Memory is the Residue of Thought,” “from here to there in one straight line” finds Basanta working with sound effects and small noise samples to develop ideas over ominous drones.

Bookended by “before” and “after” tracks, the heavy experience of the title track is given context by minimalist bursts of noise.  For just a moment, the high-frequency rhythmic device so rampant in “from here to there in one straight line” is isolated on “Before.”  Then, after the rather intense final push to end the 21-minute centerpiece, Basanta offers a bit more breathing room to the listener with a spacey two minutes of white noise.  Obviously the title-track is where the heart of the album lies, however, its impact is made a bit more satisfying with these framing devices.

As far as “from here to there” goes, the track basically builds two climaxes, one at the seven-minute mark and another just before the ending.  First Basanta offers a stagnant drone with textural electric shocks at the melodic level.  Throughout the build, Basanta is continuously adding layers, but rather than quickly piling on a noises, there’s more of an effort to adapt the listener to each new sound.  Each addition to the foundation of the track slowly blends into the background.  This makes the new elements stick out a bit more and the sudden drop at the climaxes of the track more intense as the listener is reminded of just how many sound effects Basanta has piled upon them.

After the first structure of “from here to there” collapses, the first sounds of the track are left alone with aquatic undertones.  Slowly the entire track pauses at around the nine-minute mark for complete silence.  The second major build of the track seems to value pitch-based sounds over rhythm and texture.  Circulating drones fade into the picture ever so slowly for nine or ten minutes with rattling high frequency electronics adding to the shimmering distortion and lower bass tones bottoming things out.  Basanta’s ability to develop and build sounds truly keeps the work capturing throughout.

Despite the slight lean towards pitch rather than texture in the second part of the “from here to there,” Basanta still plays with a lot of the same general effects on both sides of this track.  It feels a bit more like a reorganization than a contrasting approach.  This contributes to the work’s somewhat lacking emotional focus.  Basanta’s high pitched, textural sounds are generally quite bright, and the drones are generally dark or even just emotionally sterile.  It would probably do Basanta well to commit a bit more to one emotional state at a time.  I imagine that if the first side of the track played around with brightness and the second took a turn for brooding darkness, the album would see a bit more of an emotional impact.

Adam Basanta is certainly a fantastic artist with a unique niche in experimental and drone music.  “from here to there in one straight line” surprises from beginning to end with expert layering and development.  The work could do a bit more to find specific moods and emotions, but it’s certainly worth a listen and I expect more great work from him in the future.

-Donovan Burtan

7/10

Basanta’s got a knack for playing with the listener’s ear, I think a bit more commitment to a specific mood could increase the emotional impact.

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