Early last year I wrote a feature outlining an introduction, or beginner’s guide, to a collection of must-hear drone albums from the past 30 years. On that list was Kyle Bobby Dunn’s 2014 opus, …and the Infinite Sadness, a guitar-drone album standing as one of the strongest documents of Dunn’s superior penchant for long-view, nostalgia-drenched composition. On his new split release with Indianapolis based Wayne Robert Thomas, Dunn presents “The Searchers” to the unassuming masses, his first new material to appear in physical form since that long-winded, aforementioned snooze-fest (just kidding Kyle, it’s a beaut).
“The Searchers,” as most reading this will likely recognize, is taken from the John Ford classic. The press release states that the film “meditates on the way in which the imposing expansiveness of the American West worked upon the minds of its inhabitants who fought, lost and did terrible things to each other in their attempt to claim it.” If the film was about the imposing expansiveness of the West, then Dunn’s offering is one of two things: a soundtrack to the seldom recognized quietude lying beneath the perpetual forward push of that colonial ideal, or it points to a silver lining that says despite the various forms of oppression that humans plague upon other humans, there is an underlying good that governs our search for meaning in this incalculable void.
Not unlike his Ways of Meaning standout, “Canyon Meadows,” or In Miserum Stercus’s “Meadowfuck”, “The Searchers” tumbles forever onward in that silky-smooth way only Dunn seems able to pull off. The work effortlessly alludes to the expansiveness of a vast land as rising sunlight creeps along the edges of eroded rock formations. As the great breadth of the American dream, Dunn’s music, too, feels unconfined, its sounds existing on a limitless plain where the human conventions of time and direction are of no significance. To break this composition down into its constituent parts would be doing it a great injustice, the same way any complex system cannot and should not be defined by superficial glimpses. “The Searchers,” then, is not just an ode, but a title that implores definition. The word ‘search’ implies a movement, a looking for answers without the promise of finding them. Like any pursuit worth doing, retrospection reveals the journey’s significance over the destination.
Wayne Robert Thomas is a new name to me, but his bandcamp page reveals a nice spread of “slow moving compositions for guitar.” Listening to his 20-minute offering, “Voyevoda,” it’s of little surprise he’s been matched up with Dunn here. The piece is a slowly evolving drone work rife with layered strings and hue-shifting vibrations. Where Dunn has tossed the map and compass all together, Thomas plants at least a few land markers along the way. “Voyevoda’s” narrative follows gentle arcs along a rolling hill soundscape. At very least the piece is a sure thing for melting away one’s anxieties, and as a counter to Dunn it provides just the right level of variety to keep this record fresh well beyond introduction.
Visit Whited Sepulchre on bandcamp.