July 02, 2021
(Kompakt)The Sacramento duo have moved towards the ruminative on their debut album, the latest in a developing, diverting genre
Blank Gloss: Melt review | John Lewiss contemporary album of the month
The music magazine Uncut recently featured a cover-mounted CD and an accompanying article celebrating “Ambient Americana”, subtitled “a road trip across psychic state lines”, while the Guardian surveyed the “ambient country” scene in 2020. Also known as “post-country”, “cosmic pastoral” or “bootgaze”, it’s a micro-genre that has been percolating for decades. Think of Ry Cooder’s soundtrack to Paris, Texas; BJ Cole’s collaborations with Guy Jackson or Øyvind Skarbø, Brian Eno’s work with Daniel Lanois, the avant garde primitivism of John Fahey, or even The KLF’s Chill Out album. In recent years it has been taken in new directions by the likes of Chuck Johnson, Mike Cooper, Marielle Jakobsons and the Nashville duo Hammock.
The latest development in the genre comes from Blank Gloss, a duo from Sacramento, California, comprising Patrick Hills and Morgan Fox. The pair have a history in thrashy punk and experimental bands but, since signing to the Cologne-based electronic label Kompakt, they’ve moved in a more ruminative, improvisational direction. Their debut album Melt is a futuristic journey through the US desert, one that dismantles the defining sonic tropes of American roots music (woozy pedal steel flourishes, slurring fiddles, brushed drums, the twang of a reverb-drenched electric guitar) and reassembles them as disembodied sounds, put through an ambient filter. Where so much electronica conjures up concrete brutalism, spacious warehouses and neon-lit motorways, Melt suggests wide open spaces, huge skies, endless horizons and dust-dry roads.
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