Music

The Sight Below: Glider

Warning: Not to be mistaken for wallpaper.


The Sight Below

Glider

Label: Ghostly International
UK Release Date: Available as import
US Release Date: 2008-11-11
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Under Seattle's largely grey skies, the musician behind the Sight Below challenges the conventions of ambient techno with his guitar. Glider's nine songs follow three previously released free ones from the Sight Below, who plies lethargic, long-delayed guitar lines with an ever-so-gentle kick. Glider' s pattern is immediate: whether it was named after the My Bloody Valentine EP or not (theirs is incidentally louder), these shoegaze-friendly compositions eventually become so serene, they're almost part of the room. And then they wash away.

The Sight Below's No Place for Us EP, made available as a free download at Ghostly International's website this year, is a luminous precursor to Glider. The EP's tracks are slightly more fuzzy than those on the subsequent album. Not a single ringing note is allowed to permeate the wall of haze on No Place, except for an infrequent appearance of a piano melody during "Twice Failed". The Sight Below's perpetual hiss and occasional interplay of crackling rain-against-the-window sounds here, particularly on "Twice Failed", make for a displacing listen that nods fondly in the direction of the DeepChord Presents: Echospace recordings. No Place grows more captivating every time I visit its three dense tracks, and the full-length, with a couple of exceptions, has yet to grow on me in the manner that the EP has. It is more mysterious than Glider, presenting a swirling wall of looped and reverberating textures that don't seem to offer a blueprint of any kind. Although the follow-up calls from the same place, the full-length is more often representative of its parts. The guitar at Glider's core is discernible in the bent tones overtop "Life's Fading Light", as well as in the long-lingering slide accompaniment in "Further Away."

The Sight Below's tracks rarely present a break from an ongoing deceptive blur of stationary sound. "At First Touch" is an opener so nonchalant that you almost forget it's there. Its calming surge, barely changing shape other than to retreat, is suspended by little more than an unobtrusive kick drum and muted hi-hats. "Without Motion" is just as magnificently aloof, spun with haunting, flickering washes that crest seconds before the four-minute mark, and drop out almost immediately afterward. While these are all qualifiers for its place on the next Kompakt Pop Ambient collection, and definitely make a good case for the oncoming comparisons to the Field's evocative From Here We Go Sublime LP, Glider is far more entrenched in an organic sound, with its gloom owing to winding guitar rather than to pronounced looping samples. It isn't easy to soak in this still music at first, but when you're able to spend some time with it, the reward is quite bountiful. One should pay close attention to the aptly named "Further Away", if not for the echoing strands of the Sight Below's stammering single notes, then for a formula that seems blatantly connected to its romantic title.

Like the bulk of Glider's woozy pieces, "Further Away" moves slowly into earshot, this time with no percussion, on a sea of back-corner shuffling and very dim cathedral bell sounds. Almost everything is distant on this one; the "lead" guitar picking (though hardly staged in a pattern of any kind) is the most noticeable element at work, but it's nearly drowned out by the radiator whoosh, which glazes over all of it by its adjournment as all the other working pieces are phased out. Alongside Grouper or Eluvium in the Music That Just Hangs There genre, Glider's majestic 49 minutes sit, despite the percussive knock at the base of most of these tracks, never quite getting up. And then they wash away.

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