CLOUDS UPON CLOUDS
IN A BREEZE
Believe it or not, Darren Tate’s very first live performance was at the beginning of this year, a Monos concert in Preston which Colin Potter described as a great personal success for our hero, who was jokingly renamed “Mr. Guitar” after the set, given his (previously unknown) ability in bringing unusual sounds out of the instrument. It’s not a surprise, then, that these two recent releases by Tate make good use of the six strings in completely different settings. Clouds Upon Clouds employs three basic sources: a held organ chord, a few touches of electric piano and the guitar plus various effects. The organ’s harmonic drone remains static throughout, even if its intensity and mix position change according to the different sections. Tate tortures and caresses the strings in total freedom, confirming his Dadaist approach to guitar playing (and to music at large): distortion, hiss and hum are all part of the equation. In the second movement, chordal shapes are muffled by some kind of compression that transforms their timbre into a choked utterance, while the introspective candour of Tate’s art is best showcased in the third and final movement when simple electric piano touches are added to the recipe, spiced up by a short-repeat delay. In a Breeze features an electric toothbrush setting the guitar strings in perennial vibration, the resulting drones filtered by heavy effects (with flanging to boot) in one of the Yorkshireman’s best albums to date. Slowly drifting harmonics and gradual morphing of faint auras around the fixed chords are the key to enter a world of pure inner resonance in which Tate’s gentle frequency beats are like small angels fluttering, frail wings spreading a magic dust of protective comfort.