Jun 5, 2013


Colin Stetson is a saxophonist who uses circular breathing and well placed mics to play/record in a way that sounds like he's using loops or even a 4-piece noise band, but it's just him (!), and there are no loops or tracks, and so every sound is alive and real and immediate. His drones soothe and his melodies repeat and whirl. He wails as he breathes circularly. We hear his hands move to create the minimalistic whirls and their movements are percussive. Often when people write about him they either exhaust the less strange suggestions on thesaurus.com for searches 'difficult' and 'beautiful', or they write about catharsis, delayed gratification, masochism, minimalism, and drone. This album is the final entry in his New History of Warfare trilogy and as with the others, it is concerned with loneliness. But it is also different. Bong Iver rocks up and not only sings into a mic that isn't placed near/on Stetson's sax (I have no way of confirming this), but requests that typically Iver-ish multi-track on his falsetto. Vernon's additions upset those invested in the purity of Stetson's method. Or who just don't like Vernon. I don't mind Vernon and I appreciate the contrast. Because contrast is such a big part of To See More Light. As the trilogy's final entry, it's important that it displays a wide variety of sounds and emotions. It's physical as ever (as well as thesaurus.com search 'difficult') but spiritual. Hypnotic but gruelling. Cold but heartfelt. Lonely but searching. To See More Light is darker than ever because sometimes it goes from an anxious, rapid anger to completely losing itself and slowing down and wandering alone having expelled its evils and presumably passion/spirit along with that, that's where it's darkest, where it goes from angry to devoid (of anything other than its own lack), but then sometimes this thing happens where it finds hope or a redemption somewhere/somehow having been 0 and it doesn't end there but rather we get to see it ascend and improve and it's so fucking beautiful that you might just cry when you hear it. To See More Light didn't have to be hopeful and it didn't have to be different. But it's both and it's incredible.


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