Even though William Huston might be better known to a lot of folks as one third of noise rap pioneers clipping., the dude has been releasing excellent slices of minimal ambiance on and off as Rale since 2006. Huston’s music as Rale may be one of the most complete convergences between the more academically minded experimental music of the Erstwhile scene and the current New Age-influenced synth drone work of various American underground labels. Even though Huston’s work often incorporates beautiful sustained harmony like many of his ambient peers, it’s his use of negative space that put his Rale compositions closer to the works of Michael Pisaro or Eliane Radigue than Emeralds.
The music of Rale is all about ADSR, particularly how the attack and decay of Huston’s synthetic sounds enter and leave the natural sound world around them. In Huston’s live performance, this effect is absolutely stunning: Huston’s beautiful chords crescendo until the space physically rattles with sound and then slowly fade to near silence before beginning the process again. When I recently saw Huston perform a set of material at the wulf., it seemed like his synth playing truly interacted with the space; it was a rare instance of harmony and rhythm affecting the physical space in a natural, non-confrontational manner, where both the musical material and the physicality of the space itself seemed integral to the set.
With probability a: three studies for compositions of infinite length, Huston has created another superb recorded work out of this same material. probability… very much builds on Huston’s equally negative space-obsessed The Moon Regarded, and the Bright One Sought from last year. However, probability… is perhaps the most eloquently articulated of his Rale albums yet. The notion of Huston’s synth harmonies emerging from the space itself has been taken to a near psychoacoustic height on this record. One look at the waveforms from this excerpt on SoundCloud can confirm that Huston has found a way to constantly keep sound flowing, even when it feels like nothing’s happening. In this way, the dichotomy between sound and silence narrows further from The Moon Regarded, which found the composer using extremely quiet high frequencies to similar but lesser effect. In this way, probability… takes the Wandelweisser collective’s notion of “silence as sound” and redefines this statement quite literally. Huston’s music shows that sound can still exist within the decay of a particular digital sound, even when the listener perceives what they’re hearing as silence. Ultimately, these differences between the digital near-silences of Huston’s compositions and the natural “silences” of the listener’s space become almost imperceptible, allowing for “compositions of infinite length” to exist even when the record itself ends.
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