Sounds Heard: itsnotyouitsme—Fallen Monuments
itsnotyouitsme – Kid Icarus (Little Jam)
I began listening to the new itsnotyouitsme recording Fallen Monuments in the midst of other activities, and I found that I kept stopping to listen more closely, finally giving up whatever task I was trying to focus on in favor of soaking in this compelling recording.
The second recording of duo Caleb Burhans (playing electric violin, Casio SK-1, loops, and voice) and Grey McMurray (guitar and loops), Fallen Monuments is a selection of tracks taken from recordings of live performances between December 2007 and August 2008. The two are a strong improvising team—creative in their compositional approach as well as in their choices of sonic palette. This is not self-indulgent improvisation, but rather the thoughtful performances of creative minds reveling in active listening and collaboration.
The first track, “Kid Icarus (Little Jam),” begins with a swelling organ introduction, soon joined by a soaring processed violin accompaniment that rises to ecstatic heights, finally vanishing into the distance. “Music for a Blue Whale” sports electric violin and vocal glissandi punctuated by satisfyingly gritty bursts of processed guitar and keyboard. “Vanity Stays My Hand” and “Seasons Greetings” add a rhythmic skeleton of looped pizzicato violin to which the two intertwine numerous melodic layers. The initial chordal swells combined with ominous low roar of the aptly titled “We are the Sons of our Fathers” are quelled at 8 minutes by a slow-growing, transforming guitar loop which immediately sent me back to college day obsessions over the collaborations of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp—so much so that I scoured old boxes of cassette tapes in search of those recordings, wondering how I could possibly have forgotten about them.
Ordinarily I might be put off by the occasional familiar sound manipulation technique or clear nods to other artists, but those events take place with enough panache that the references simply become part of the musical landscape.
Fallen Monuments succeeds in being spellbindingly lovely and sonically substantive at the same time. Lush, gleaming sounds combined with infusions of grit that prove mesmerizing without being sleep-inducing. For those with a taste for ambient music and/or minimalism, this is a highly satisfying recording that employs the duo’s self-stated mission to “make you cry in a good way.”