“Most music chooses its own position in terms of your listening to it. Muzak wants to be back there. Punk wants to be up front. Classical wants to be another place. I wanted to make something you could slip in and out of. You could pay attention or you could choose not to be distracted by it if you wanted to do something while it was on. I can’t read with a pop record playing, or with most classical records. They’re not intended to leave that part of the mind free – my mind, anyway. Ambient music allows many different types of attention.” ~ Brian Eno (Trouser Press interview, 1982)
Low Point (Catalog Number: LP033)
Format: Two CD set, packaged in a full colour folding card wallet
Release Date: 18th January 2010
Available for Purchase from: www.low-point.com/LP033.html
- The Tributary (For Voices Lost)
- There Is No End To Your Beauty
- Small Show of Hands
- Grab (And Its Lost Legacies)
- Empty Gazing
- Last Minute Jest
- The Second Ponderosa
- Bonaventure’s Finest Hour
- Sets of Four (Its Meaning Is Deeper Than Its Title Implies)
- The Nightjar
When I was asked to review A Young Person’s Guide To by New York-based Kyle Bobby Dunn, I did not know what to expect, as I was completely unfamiliar with Dunn’s musical work. Several other reviewers liken this album to the music of Stars Of The Lid. I encourage readers to check out the album web page on the Low Point website for links to these other reviews. Here, I will refrain from making artist comparisons other than mentioning the following story.
While studying the album for this review, a musically inclined friend heard the music and asked if I was familiar with of Leif Inge’s 9BeetStretch – a music project where Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was stretched to 24 hours with no pitch distortions. I find 9BeetStretch to be amazingly beautiful and powerful – retaining the emotion and passion of Beethoven’s symphony. In other words, the “wow” I experience from Beethoven’s compositions. According to the album description on the Low Point website, Dunn in fact drafted classically trained musicians while creating the soundscape palette for the album, which includes guitar, strings, and brass.
One measure in my mind of quality soundscape and ambient music is how it combines with the natural sounds present in one’s listening environment. With certain tracks on the album, it was very interesting how the music combined seamlessly with nearby construction noise. I actually turned the music off at points while listening to certain tracks to confirm that Dunn had not carefully and artfully added the construction noises into the compositions!
The last track on the album is the only one I have mixed feelings about. Dunn has done some interesting work on the low end with the bass, but I do not know what to make of the vocal samples that close the album. They confuse me and put me in a state of slight anxiety. I’m not sure if this was the intended effect – thoughts from the artist on this point in the comments section of this post would be very welcome.
Overall, I’m impressed by A Young Person’s Guide To – it is extremely beautiful and I found myself thinking “WOW!” at several points, just like when I listen to Beethoven’s symphonies or 9BeetStretch. I will be keeping my ears open in anticipation for Dunn’s future soundscape releases.
A Young Person’s Guide To by Kyle Bobby Dunn will make a worthwhile addition to your ambient music collection or as a gift for the ambient music aficionado in your life. You can purchase the album from the Low Point website. On iTunes, you can find some of Dunn’s other releases.
QUESTION: What is your favourite track on A Young Person’s Guide To by Kyle Bobby Dunn and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.