(New Album Review) Sublamp- Lianas

Lianas is the latest full-length album from Los Angeles based sound artist Sublamp (Ryan Connors), released on the excellent French label Eilean Records. The album is made up of three pieces under the twenty-minute mark, preceded by a brief forty second preface. For this album it sounds like Connors mostly relied on teasing soft droplets of sound out of his guitar, though field recordings are also sparingly incorporated into the fabric of this album.

The pieces on this album represent the highest level of discretion and pacing that can be brought to warm drone. Connors’s pieces develop slowly, building up intensity until you’ve become lost in the layers of sound. He doesn’t bowl the listener over with cinematic, sentimental effects, and yet these pieces pull you in with their sense of mystery and wonder, as should be the case with great ambient and drone. Sublamp reminds me a little bit of the Portland based droner Eluder, only while Eluder often has made music that brings you to rather eerie headspaces, Sublamp is much warmer, but nonetheless ambivalent, with a sense of the unknown looming heavily over these drones. Lianas are climbing vines. This album is like a slow journey from out of the darkness of the forest floor, up through the understory, into the canopy, where the scorchingly harsh guitar tone that concludes “Our Bodies Draped in Moss and Cloud” finally leaves us.

Lianas is a work of rare sensitivity and goes down in my mind as one of the best drone records of the year.

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