Welcome to an environment of the most private kind. Welcome to a space wherein lies a gathering of individual recollections bearing radiant attention to detail, where snapshots and reflections of personal experiences are relived and pondered across two discs of celestially supine material. Although this dreamy expanse may appear secretive and shrouded with an opaque complex that skews any glaring intent, it remains humble and inviting. The thick, Polar neaps and springs that incarnate here are punctured through illuminating titles resembling fragments of distilled memories, which provide entry points that don’t so much offer insight, but carefully uncover conceptual ideas at the substratum of each piece. Welcome to the calm, thoughtful, patient work of Kyle Bobby Dunn.
Having completed his sixth full-length to date, Dunn is by no means a novice in the ambient/drone milieu. The comprehensive discography of this young and dexterous artist from east-central Canada has inspired comparisons to William Basinski, Harold Budd, and epic drone darlings Stars of the Lid, which provide more than an ample sketch as to the breadth and scope of the music he creates. On his 2009 EP Fervency, Dunn choreographed pitch and timbre through a seemingly effortless five-track batch of carefully processed guitar and organ chords, which later became allotted to 2010’s bounteous and distinctly more lengthy A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn. It was on his fifth album, however, that Dunn began to offer more distinctive clues about what lay beneath the surface of his ambient arrangements. While “Movement for the Completely Fucked” painted a vulnerable picture of the artist who “had never felt so fucked before,” “Dropping Sandwiches (In Chester Lake)” pointed to a reflective and perpending character, whose picture postcard memories of obscure moments were brought to life once again in these “ultra-personal” recordings.
There was never any desperate need (or apparent desire), then, to alter the musical approach to this album technically; there was no pre-requisite to shift in style, pace, or motion, to flesh things out or to strip things down. The formula for Bring Me The Head… remains very much akin to Dunn’s previous efforts as far as composition and structure are concerned; these are glacial pieces for chamber instruments that coax distant violin and horn echo out of the horizon and run for varying lengths of time, when the importance of time itself is made redundant by the very nature of the aesthetic. This is by no means a deficiency; Dunn has a marvelous knack for propelling gently performed drone works into vanishing points of tectonic ether that bloom as they evaporate into crushing, trance-inducing soundscapes.
How is it then that Dunn manages to provide such stimulating ambient music across the entirety of this 15-track, double-disc release, particularly when the change in consequence of his familiar methods stray no further than the subtle? The answer appears to lie in variations of texture and theme, which become more intrinsically apparent after repeat listens and while concentrating on something other than the music itself — a fortuitous memory or recurring dream fragment, for instance. Only then does the gasping scordatura of “Ending of All Odds,” the clenched and beckoning coda of “La Chanson de Beurrage,” and the polyphonic tide of “The Hungover” become that much more punctuated, providing spirited and addictive twists to this hypnotic album. What remains is an invitation to explore a work personal and cathartic, but not necessarily sacred, the perfect accomplice to the contorted bliss of a seductive daydream.