Paul Corley has quietly been an big part of some important albums over the past couple years, including Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath 1972 and Ben Frost’s By the Throat. But now he’s out front with his debut album, Disquiet, and he isn’t exactly shouting at us. This is an album of treated pianos and atmospheric murk that almost deals more in the silence around the music than the music itself. “She is in the Ground” lets piano notes and chords ring out into space while spinning scrapes of sound assemble themselves into tight coils in the distance, slowly but surely closing in on the keys. “Dialogue and Passing Judgment” finds things even more smudged and ethereal. The keys sound like they are underwater, drifting away even as they’re struck, and the electronic not-quite-pulse around them is more a suggestion of sound than anything.
The title track, which closes the album with 14-minutes, is the quietest but also the most fully formed, sounding like the most straight-forward neo-classical piece of the bunch. The sounds around the piano echo and repeat it, like the two are dancing, and the back and forth is quite beautiful. It’s the moment to which the album builds, and really a big payoff for a record that is almost too fragile at times for its own good. For all its playing with space and silence, it sometimes lures you in only to leave you in darkness. It straddles a line between mystery and nothingness and though it lands on the former more often than not, this is a space that could use more of Corley’s own definition, his own personality, to give it the heft he wants.
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