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Peter Wright - Pretty Mushroom Clouds / At Last A New Dawn

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Artist: Peter Wright

Album: Pretty Mushroom Clouds / At Last A New Dawn

Label: Archive Recordings

Review date: Aug. 15, 2008


Peter Wright - "When It Was Calmer, the Bleeding Stopped" (At Last a New Dawn)


Peter Wright’s guitar playing is mercurial, in one of its original meanings: ‘liquid at all ordinary temperatures.’ Like many drone artists, he uses effects and the now-humble laptop to erase easily definable beginnings and ends from his compositions. Rather, Wright leaves things in states of constant suspension, such that his music best deserves analogy to visual arts – it’s often close to a pendulous, organically evolving sculpture, constantly morphing in front of your ears, its constant a glowing ball of light, placed deep inside, radiating heat. This isn’t the only thing Wright does, but it’s one of things he does best.

Pretty Mushroom Clouds, edited together from live recordings spanning both two continents and two years, treats suspension as its raison d’etre, from the blue-grey haze of tone that shivers across “Pretty Mushroom Clouds,” to the quietly sifting grains of noise that fall through “Ash.” But Wright, thankfully, doesn’t relinquish dynamics; these descriptions may suggest something inert, or close to stasis, but “The Devil Wears Sunroof” puts paid to that assertion. Wright significantly levers up the volume and intensity through this 20-minute-plus performance, from The Yod Space in Northampton Mass.. His guitar playing, jolted from its more comfortable skins, moves into different zones: shuddering scrawls that whip and whistle like broken, sparking electrical wires, tensile streams of single notes, buckling under Wright’s fingers. Here, he occasionally approaches the heaviness of Keiji Haino’s noise avalanches.

At Last A New Dawn (on the Students of Decay label) is a double-disc set that reads as abstract political allegory. Wright only really gets explicit during “Blue Light District,” which features recordings of news reports on the London bombings, but there’s something sewn deeper into the fabric of the record. It sometimes breaks out through volume. On At Last A New Dawn, Wright occasionally plays with barely unchecked fury, as on the tar-black drones of “Death Ships Approaching,” and there are other passages where he overloads the sensorium. But the most pregnant moments are quieter and more considered, such as the sea-spray and droplets of moisture that sift through “At Last A New Dawn.” Its opening minutes imagine the dub-wise spatiality of, say, those early Pole albums, transcribed for guitar and laptop. It’s an exhausting listen, more for the emotional engagement it demands of its listener than anything as prosaic as its length – which, as it happens, feels entirely necessary.

By Jon Dale

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