Label: Bucket Factory Release date: 06/07/10 Link: Official Site Rarely has the term “blissed out” made more sense. Matt Carlson (of Parenthetical Girls) and Jonathan Sielaff (Au) are Golden Retriever, easily one of the most interesting drone bands to form in a long time. Carlson only uses analog synthesizers, the kind that you have to patch by hand to make sounds with, while Sielaff runs his bass clarinet through multiple effects – Brian Wolff style. With their second full length, the aptly name Golden Retriever 2, the duo seem to find their place in a world of guitars. The ghost of the drone doom subgenre has haunted drone for years now. When you say “drone” the bands that usually come to mind (to most people) are Sunn O))), maybe Earth, and Boris – predominately guitar based music that favours extreme length with minimal change, an extreme form of La Monte Young’s Drift Studies for instruments without infinite sustain, and no vocals (save for Sunn O))), who have done cool shit with Attila, among other vocalists). So when the first sounds on the album are a wash of rapidly LFO-ing synth and washes of clarinet that sounds more like an alto sax, the reaction is to label it with Kranky acts like Windy & Carl or White Rainbow or even Eluvium – acts that use traditional instruments to make ambient music. But no, Golden Retriever are drone, not ambient, mainly due to their use of repeated figures as ostinato in place of soundscapes and washes. No rest is to be found for the ADHD listener here, either, as Part 1 is 22’20” and Part 2 is 20’18”. Each minute seems to fly by, making it almost unnoticeable that each change of melody often occurs around a five minute mark, which would imply a sense of timing with these pieces that is closer to John Cage’s use of stopwatches to determine when an indeterminate event would occur. Part 1 in particular showcases some impressive clarinet playing from Sielaff, who has a tone somewhere between The Mascara Snake and Dolphy. His sense of melody and timing are impeccable, each riff choice ideal for the music around it and never too obtrusive, often showcasing his dulcet high register. Similarly, Carlson’s subtle shifts in synth parts provide the backing for improvisation, and often seem to be the work of a musician possessed. He’s a new era Terry Riley, but with the love of modulation expected from Reich. And that’s where this band really sits: minimalism. Golden Retriever are minimalism, somewhere between Riley’s guided improvisations like In C and Poppy Nogood but mated with Young’s Morning Blues series and Bowed Gong Studies then particle collided with Reich’s Four Organs and Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ. The only gripe here is the way that the album has been edited. The first part is jumped into, in the middle of a phrase and without warning. The second Part, on the other hand, seems to end prematurely. It could just be an extreme fade out, but it’s hard to tell. Honestly, all I can say is try to grab one of the last copies of this edition of 100 CD-R from Carlson (I got #71). It’s an impressive work that distances this band from any drone, ambient, shoegaze, or minimalist act around. Photobucket