19 June 2017


shaking box 2017, edition of 70

"Three extended pieces from Bitter Fictions, among the last Tascam 244 recordings made by Devin Friesen before moving out of longstanding recording haunt The Library. Lushly blown-out feedback solitude caught on tape, one more hopefully hopeless new age conspiracy from the bummer basement. The 22-minute opener 'Jaywalking to Avoid Families' sets the tones, by the end of 'Stitch (Ten Years a Stranger)' the reflection has slowed to a numb crawl. Measure steps between longing and dread. // gtr / tapes played / recorded by d.f. in the library basement (calgary ab) w roommate's tascam 244 july / august 2016, my last months before moving out and getting my own 4-track, these are some of the last pieces I recorded with that machine in that basement which honestly looks a lot nicer now" - SHAKING BOX

each new work from FRIESEN is an impressive improvement on what he came before, so it's not particularly shocking that this is his best yet, without any question or hesitation - last year's JETTISON [REC #136] was a subtle yet crucial revelation, for the artist as much as the avid listener, i think - it was like something clicked - before XXVII, even and especially on criminally underappreciated JETTISON --in a vinyl edition of 100 still available from SHAKING BOX and just barely missed the cut on my non cassette top ten-- FRIESEN sounded like he was honing his sound, live fire exercises, if you will - XXVII is the resultant work, the end product, the summit, endowed with a striking sense of accomplishment, of arrival - well at least that's my twisted weirdo cassette worldview interpretation

a case in point - last year's "morning in yr eyes" was like FRIESEN discovered fire - it fits and flows on JETTISON, but even in the context of a really good album it's clear to me that "morning in yr eyes" is a stroke of genius, it's the ace in JETTISON's ace high flush, an all too brief holy respite that caught my attention in a hurry as i noted it "plays like a glorious FRIPPIAN desert fried sunrise symphony" - well XXVII takes that five minute prayer and turns it into a 45 minute sanctified mass for the ages - as i said, there's appreciable improvement via revisitation and re-examination, particularly on this deep diver which coulda shoulda been titled something like THREE MORNING VARIATIONS a la ENO's DISCREET MUSIC side two

speaking of, XXVII is like the bite sized expositions on ENO's AMBIENT 4 and APOLLO and the final seconds of TWELLS & CHRISTENSEN's COASTS stretched out like taffy, infused with the kosmische goo seeping through the rivets on NEU's motorik propulsion system, perhaps duly informed by FLYING SAUCER ATTACK interludes and DAVID PEARCE's avant guitar revitalization on INSTRUMENTALS 2015 [REC# 67], and/or a devout disciple of LOREN CONNORS and ROY MONTGOMERY, or perhaps FRIESEN developed his sound entirely through self guided trial and error without any overt emulation, self taught in meditative isolation - no matter the extent of the roots, the fruit here is bountiful, XXVII is a boon born out of a well studied obsession with the guitar as an instrument of atmosphere and texture - FRIESEN fantastically conjures chordal reverberation, howling feedback and scorched earth scuzz, then alchemized into a gorgeous harmonic spiritualized sonic journey, a post no wave (?) aria for guitar, kinda like BRAEYDEN JAE re-envisioning VANGELIS' BLADE RUNNER score

on that note, some contemporary comparisons to consider - aforementioned JAE, AMULETS, CLOUDSOUND and SKITTISH ARM - the usual suspects for this sort of thing, but they're the best so what else can i say really - there's also some correlation with the soft -or rather the less harsh- underbelly of the euro post industrial dark ambient noise scene a la IVORY TRADE and SOFIA OZDRAVOVNA, but titled more toward composition, or at least the impression of, not too far removed from SEAN MCCANN and his own RECITAL imprint (which just reissued an album by CONNORS) and AARON MARTIN and WILLAMETTE's JOSEPH EDWARD YONKER