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21 July 2009

Robert Ashley - 'Automatic Writing' (Lovely Music)

Listening to this record essentially twice in a row (I mean, I slept a night in-between) is a bit like subjecting yourself to sleep deprivation. The mumbling and groans here may have actually been recorded while Ashley was sleeping, and the synth tones in the background (not to mention the distant rhythm as described on Elbowed Cinderblocks) give it a dream house quality. I didn't say anything about the cover art last time, which I also think is brilliant. Because it sounds like your neighbor is having a party, I always associated this record with casual living - beaches, button-down short-sleeve shirts that are open a few buttons, ya know. Besides my obvious LP bias this wins out over the CD, DESPITE having to be flipped, because it's presented as one complete work, without the weird rape explorations of the CD bonus tracks. Plus you get a 27-minute LP side without any apparent compromise of sound quality (I mean, the whole record is low volume to begin with). And like great ambient records, or Rafael Toral's Wave Field, this is amazing at a low volume yet if you crank it up there's more goodies inside. And to be honest, when Ashley and Mimi Johnson shut up and just the synth intervals take over, it kinda reminds me a bit of Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden, specifically the parts where the clouds part and the voice of God rings down. Except here it's the lack of voice that make things so holy. Not that I'm reading anything particularly spiritual or liturgical into this beast.

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