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Peter Wright - Desolation Beauty Violence

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Artist: Peter Wright

Album: Desolation Beauty Violence

Label: Ikuisuus

Review date: Apr. 6, 2006

As the New Zealand-born and now London-based Wright admits, he severely limits his creative possibilities when he restricts his palette to a 12-string Danelectro guitar and a template of slowly enveloping drone. But in an age of uncritical eclecticism, the fences Wright erects serve to mark out a rich pasture of ideas rather than cage in his creativity, of which this CD reissue provides convincing evidence. Over a suite of eight extended pieces, Wright extracts a focused palette of textures and arranges them in subtle, accessible structures, building a convincing arc that carries the listener from beginning to end.

Wright sequences the tracks well, striking a balance that feels simultaneously logical and dramatic. The Fennesz fireside hum and crackle of opener “Above Lewis Pass” glides into the billowing cloudscape “Adrift at 30,000 ft.” The dry metallic clang on “Like Clockwork” sets up the thousand-sitar cacophony of “Kashmir,” the layers of buzz building up a hive of dense motion. Once the textural explorations let up, “Point Blank” suggests an actual chord progression and toys with a somber theme.

While much drone-based music often looms over the listener as monolithic and impersonal (which is often the point), Wright finds a way to inject some personality into his 12-string drift. “Evening at Ben Ohau,” the album’s 20-minute centerpiece, is preceded by an example of what Wright calls his ‘open-door policy.’ He uses the approach to lend a background of chance and landscape to his music. Here, it sounds as if an amplifier has been left to hum, almost imperceptibly, in a room. The size of the room, its own sonic identity and incidental sounds from the outside world all leak in. The episode is hushed, close to inaudible, and it invites the listener in, letting one get comfortable for the long sail towards the horizon that follows.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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