“A Young Persons Guide To” – ‘Kyle Bobby Dunn’

I thought before I got inundated with homework and the likes, I’d post something on the blog with my self-esteem still intact: University seems to tear me to pieces more often than not, with my writing. Better to pump out something before the shock-wave, not during or after like I have a tendency to do. Besides, this is like getting practice in before the big game – a swing and a miss here, it’s all the same to me. Then again, my mind has been dwelling on this album of late, and my fingers have been itching for some typing-action…

Highly Evolved was approached earlier last week by artist Kyle Bobby Dunn to deliver his latest release, A Young Persons Guide To, in what can only be described as a minimalistic crusade into the realm of epic sound-scape and sublime fantasy. It delivers a fresh perspective from the scene of ambience, while sharpening the horizons of elegant simplicity in unimaginable delicacy. Literally blown away, I feel privileged to deliver “A Young Persons Guide To” in the only way I know how:

"A Young Persons Guide To" - 'Kyle Bobby Dunn'

"A Young Persons Guide To" - 'Kyle Bobby Dunn'

“… Guide To” is like a musical storybook of instrumental characters, subsequently divided into chapters and events. Instrumentation is treated electronically, and while the elements remain classical in origin, sound is often ethereal in substance and rich in dreamy atmosphere. To great effect, these are stretched across varying time spans; from two to even seventeen minutes in length. And while these are demanding on the listener, the only way in which appreciation can be sought from “… Guide To” is with utmost dedication and patience.

Hailing from Ontario, Canada, and currently based in Brooklyn, America – “Kyle Bobby Dunn’s” sound is a unique addition to the music scene typically haunting these two areas of North America at the moment. I expected something rock-esque, but was graced with something of its opposite. I was thinking: “just another indie band,” but was delightfully surprised by its contrast. “Dunn” is anything but cliche. The work reminds me of “Mike Oldfield’s” ‘Tubular Bells’ – length-wise, I suppose. But the content is entirely different, is simpler; characteristically drone in appearance, but noise-less it atmosphere. Almost entirely vocally-absent, lyrics – if they can be called that – are merely scraps of conversation carefully woven into pockets or niches of resonance.

The minimalistic attitudes of ‘Dunn’ often mean we are usually subject to one – sometimes even two – lead-driven sounds which embody all there is to an entire track. These comprise crescendo or chorus – if it can be said to have any. Sound simply oozes, really. Tracks have the feeling of treacle or warm-honey. It’s like an escape into another world, we’re interlopers in a dream or abstractions in the music itself. It is difficult to describe verbally, description resembling meditative thoughts dependent on the individual listener, rather than some group consensus. With that said, it’s easy to get lost in this under-stimulation…

I’ve been dead to all the world for hours listening to “… Guide To”; contained within a resonating ice-prison where sound is like some aurora-borealis dancing all about me. With a total album length just shy of two-hours, this overly generous album compiles on a two-disc set. And while this milestone can simply be overcome electronically, I wish I had a CD-stacker sometimes, just so I could keep the flow persistent on my amp. This is a real lock-yourselves-away album best heard alone: it’s easy to get sidetracked or distracted, easy to rush through or skip if pressed for time. I had to put aside some hours for the second-half of “… Guide To” just to get some album-closure. I recommend this as a day-pursuit well worth your while. I understand that this endeavour might be difficult for some – probably impossible for those not well-acquainted or even interested in ambience – but I must sincerely insist at least one attempt…

“Butel” opens – if it can be said – for “… Guide To”, in a seventeen-minute introduction. Together with  “The Tributary (For Lost Voices)” and “There Is No End To Your Beauty”, these three tracks dominate an epic forty-minute time radius. This is as long as some albums I’ve reviewed. I’m astounded by the results. I cannot entirely digress each track in its overall construction: while seemingly simplistic sounds gently sway from one moment to the next, the complexity [contradictory to my statement of ‘elegant simplicity’, I know] lies in notation of sound and emphasis in amplitude, unique to each track which embody their own perspectives. Repetition is sometimes a key to understanding a track: like “Empty Gazing” – my personal favourite – which reminds me of the oncoming tide and the crashing of waves, the ocean rippling on the shoreline and the coming of a storm. Some tracks contain a natural feel, while others seem artificial and bleak.

Examples like “Promenade” or even “Grab (And Its Lost Legacies)” feel like potential Bladerunner-montages, rivaling ‘Vangelis‘ and its own perplexing sound-scapes. These tracks, like epithets, aptly reflect their titles – the dream-like quality of a promenade, a meandering or exploration, for instance. They are almost like statements, and could easily accompany a video-clip portrayed in slow-motion to just the same effect. Towards the end of “Promenade”, we hear the slush of water, as if we were swimming or on a boat coursing through a river “Last Minute Jest” is the shortest track on the entire album, a non-abrasive piano-treated display. Goes to show not everything has to be long to be beautiful.

“The Nightjar”, finishing for “… Guide To”, is a dark, hauntingly brilliant finale strung over eleven-minutes of synthetic-bliss. It begins softly, almost timidly, before gaining strength in loudness: the persistent hollowness of glass-ringing, the disconcerting melody of resonant-string. The sounds all mixed together like a twisted churchyard bell tolling some malevolence. And then just string and silence used for emotional effect. The feeling of falling, like tossing and turning from a nightmare. The waking bellow of synth, a breathing from a deep abyss. At around 9:56, a conversation like white noise…

And that’s enough for now – the dream is over: “A Young Persons Guide To” is what it says, perhaps – a guide to ‘Kyle Bobby Dunn’. It feels like he’s put bits and pieces of himself in there, like Easter-eggs for us to find. All we have to do is look and see…

Reviewers Pick: “Empty Gazing”

Stand-out Tracks: “Butel”, “Promenade”, “Grab (And Its Lost Legacies)”, “Empty Gazing”, “The Second Ponderosa”, “The Nightjar”

Rating: 4.3/5

Until when,

The Enantiomorphic God

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~ by enantiomorphicgod on July 29, 2010.

2 Responses to ““A Young Persons Guide To” – ‘Kyle Bobby Dunn’”

  1. Absolutely wonderful! So fucking mindblown right now. Thnx for this.

  2. […] the music resembles instrumental noise, rather than anything post-rock – “A Young Peoples Guide To” in essence, but not in length. And the final track, “She Died In A Fit Of Apoplexy”, begins […]

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