♫♪  Sparkling Wide Pressure - Clouds and Stairs

Scan the catalog of Frank Baugh’s long-running Sparkling Wide Pressure project and you’ll discover an informal timeline of the underground as it branched and multiplied into the short-run imprints that we’ve come to consider foundational in the post-2000 experimental circuit: Digitalis, Stunned, 905, Bathetic, Tranquility, Bridgetown, Hooker Vision (dozens more). The sheer volume and frequency of his releases speaks to his omnivorous musical process as a solo performer, improviser, and composer. His lush and inventive home recordings exemplify a restless mind unafraid to dive into new instrumental configurations and session structures, eager to test new ideas before our eyes to see what sticks. If this exploratory approach seems to favor quantity over quality in many cases, Bough’s catalog shows no signs of dilution. More than showcases for his honed tonal sensibilities and his ear for slow-building drone atmospheres, his releases exude a rare warmth and sentimentality, charged with gorgeous melodies and turns into more legible guitar work capable of sinking you into a comfortable lull or jerking a few solitary tears in the right setting (say, perhaps: all alone, in the spring sunlight, on headphones).

After contributing the first entry to the label’s catalog in 2007, and a couple more cassettes in the interim, Bough returns to No Kings for an LP entitled Clouds and Stairs, due April 14. Stream the whole album, premiering below, and take time off from your typical bustle to let Sparkling Wide Pressure’s sessions take control for a little while. The precedent of the bloated side-long ambient expanse has no foothold in this strain of compressed drone composition, which segues through discrete atmospheres at a dynamic clip in keeping with our shrinking attention spans. Like contemporaries Derek Rogers or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Bough conjures his tones quickly, lets them air for just long enough, and isn’t afraid to move into new territory in the span of one track. Within Clouds and Stairs, you’ll find self-consuming helixes of organ and synth, bursts of ring modulated percussion, even flashes of Bough’s yearning vocals draped over his swelling loops. His guitar work shines at the center of each layered field of sound, quietly winding through clean-toned major key progressions and reeling out in sustained Western guitar licks like a Morricone soundtrack or Neil Young’s Dead Man Each of these elements feels like an essential fragment of some larger mosaic possessed of innumerable textures. Light reflects on the wood floor through the windowpane. Mist dissolves. Bough’s loose arcs lead us up to the hilltop. We wrap ourselves in a blanket and we sit. We’ll be here for a while.

• Sparkling Wide Pressure: https://sparklingwidepressure.bandcamp.com
• No Kings: http://nokingsrecord.co

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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