Reviewed by: Max Miller
Most of us have had that friend — that friend who, for the sake of simplicity and gender-neutrality, I will call Cameron. Cameron owns a shit-ton of effects pedals or esoteric synths or both. They purchase found-sound collage cassettes from obscure Bandcamp labels. They spend days cooped up in a homemade recording area, laying down track after track of droning/ambient/dissonant/minimalist instrumentation. And then the dreaded day comes: Cameron sits down with these recordings and asks you to listen to them. “Of course,” you say, because Cameron is your friend. Cameron is fun. Cameron has a good sense of humor. Cameron always brings over intriguing experimental films that are somehow always more entertaining than their musical counterparts. So you sit there with a blank smile on your face and politely listen, trying hard to focus on the textures and imagine all the nuances Cameron has meticulously scattered throughout the daunting soundscapes. But try as you might, you can’t fight the feeling that their music is nothing but ethereal space-garbage. “Here comes the good part,” Cameron excitedly whispers, and you restabilize your focus. You can hardly distinguish a change in the music at all. Ten minutes pass, or maybe twenty or thirty, and the recording mercifully ends. “So what do you think?” Cameron asks. You allow a moment to pass as if you are concentrating deeply on absorbing what you just heard. “That was interesting,” you finally say. A grin crosses Cameron’s face.
On Instrumentals 2015, Bristol space rock act Flying Saucer Attack’s first LP in 15 years, David Pearce is Cameron. FSA’s music has always had a cosmic vibe, but at least records like Further had honest-to-goodness songs buried under all the reverb and echo. The instrumentals on Instrumentals 2015, all performed solely by Pearce, are as indistinguishable as music as they are from one another, much as their titles (“Instrumental 1” through “Instrumental 15”) would suggest. Occasionally, a track like “Instrumental 10” or “Instrumental 3” will discover moments of clarity that feel like a melody or chord progression for a more fully-realized tune, only to be swallowed by the über-ambient murk that dominates the record.
Now perhaps you will still give Instrumentals 2015 a listen, and perhaps you will find something amidst the haze. Maybe then you will just think I am an idiot with no ear for subtlety or an attention-span wrung dry by the Internet age. Just remember — this also may mean you are your peer group’s Cameron.
Rating: No Comment