(New Album Review) Paul Beauchamp- Pondfire

Pondfire, the debut solo album of Blind Cave Salamander’s Paul Beauchamp, will be getting a much-deserved release to vinyl from Onga Boring Machines, Old Bicycle Records, and Neon Caffe Rimini. Beauchamp works out of Torino, Italy these days, but he grew up in Muddy Creek, North Carolina, on a farm owned by his grandfather. This album is, in fact, particularly personal because it is dedicated to the memory of Paul’s grandfather and the farm on which Paul and his brother worked and came of age. Pondfire is excellent stuff that breaks the mold of an often too-safe genre with analog techniques that hearken back to some important forebears who worked with effects perhaps cruder than those more in use today.

On Pondfire Beauchamp works with broad strokes– sweeping, watery synth textures and ringing drones often form an eerie call and response. There is a certain starry-eyed spookiness to the voices of analog synths, and Beauchamp knows this…furthermore, the deliberate unnaturalness of the “crying” voice of a singing saw on a track like “Old Philips Bridge” exemplifies perfectly what Beauchamp is going for. Kyle Bobby Dunn seems to take influence from the territory covered in Avec Laudenum…perhaps Beauchamp would be more interested in Encounter (A Journey in the Key of Space). The pieces on Pondfire are minimal, but they were fleshed out with a cold and metallic palette to give them an otherwordly timbre. The imagery that comes to mind time and time again is of a boy stargazing in a cool forest by a pond, in silence.

At the same time, though, Beauchamp’s choice in earthly subject matter distinguishes his work here from the cosmic spaciousness of an album by Michael Stearns, Phillip Wilkerson, or Pulse Emitter. As if to drive home this distinction, the final piece on the album is a brief and innocent duet of a fretted dulcimer and a tinny organ voice. I am reminded a little bit of one of my cult albums: Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, but brought far closer home. This one comes highly recommended to fans of deep ambient and electro-acoustic sounds.

 

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