Friday, September 14, 2012

Jeff Younger’s Devil Loops—volume two (

We last heard from our Jeff when he released the debut from his jazz colossus The Unsupervised. Since then he’s focused on solo work and a summer tour across the country doing workshops and gigs with his Devil Loops project. In May this year, he took off to the Okanagan to record volume two over a couple days (I reviewed volume one here). The six tracks represent six performances of six spontaneous compositions—no overdubs or editing, as he points out in the album notes. As such, the sounds are abstract and elongated, with Younger allowing himself to harness any sound that the guitar might possibly make. Interestingly, he doesn’t use any overtly "spacey" effects such as chorus or flanging; he's cooked up his own special sauce of loop/delay, pitch shifting and volume pedals, and some distortion and reverb. Cavernous drones, cosmic reverberations, industrial scrapings, video game bleepblorps, and tiny insect noises fade in, mingle, then fade away. There’s even some passages that feature recognizable “guitar playing” where you think, “Oh, I bet this guy plays jazz,” especially on “Roomies,” where gentle guitar lines tumble over each other, always threatening to align without ever doing so, with beautiful results. Overall, it’s a surreal and often soothing listen that reminds me of early Cluster or Tangerine Dream—not that I’d pin any of those influences on a self-directed, schooled musician like Jeff Younger, but you know, if you're into the German ambient spacenoise, you might get into this. In less-considerate hands, such freedom and minimalism could devolve into some sadistic feedback assault, but Younger’s approach is much more inviting. This edition of Devil Loops paints an intimate soundworld that ducks away from big gestures and grand climaxes. For such an uncompromising, gutsy endeavour, it has a generous soul.

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