Andrew Paine and Richard Youngs, Mauve Dawn (Fusetron, FUSE037) LP

For nearly twenty years, Richard Youngs has confounded collectors of obscure musics with his incredibly singular vision – so singular that it’s difficult for even a seasoned fan to describe – yet all the while sounding completely different with every release. From the early solo classic Advent and the duo masterpiece Lake (with Simon Wickham-Smith) to his more recent, more “accessible” guitar-and-voice work on Sapphie, Youngs has continued to astound listeners with what he’s capable of: beauty, terror, whimsy; sometimes all on the same album. Mauve Dawn, his new duo with Andrew Paine on Chris Freeman’s excellent Fusetron label, is no different. Starting with a heavy drone reminiscent of Ligeti’s pieces on the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack, the title track “Mauve Dawn” announces itself as a primordial blast, an ur-music suitable for either the beginning or the end of the world. Amazingly enough, Paine and Youngs achieve this fantastic heavyosity not with primitive instrumentation, but with electronics, perhaps even, dare I say it, digital signal processing. As the record unfolds into the subsequent songs, the electronics make room for other instruments: bells, voice (clipped phrases here and there), and indecipherable noises. By the second side, the drones have given way to more open spaces, and as a result this side is perhaps the more “modern” of the two. Indeed, some aspects of the second side touch on more resolutely timely laptop-isms, while eschewing the glaringly obvious “hey-lookit-me-I’m-makin’-music-on-a-computer” moves ground into cliché by 10,000 bald geeks-in-tiny-glasses over the past decade or so. This music exists not to demonstrate somebody’s disposable-income purchasing power or even worse some company’s lame software, but because it has to. Knowing Youngs’ and his various collaborators’ music over the years, at this point, I expect nothing less.

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