Drawing Voices Drawing Voices

[Hydra Head/Double H Noise Industries; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles:  laptop
Others: Craig Dongoski

Whereas normal knob-twiddlers often thrill at their concerts and slump on their records, the opposite is true with laptop artists. Although a world of sound lies at their fingers, laptop artists often exhibit subtlety when designing sound, as opposed to the crazed variance of most pedal pushers. Consequently, laptop stooges often construct better recordings.

Drawing Voices, a project started by Craig Dongoski in an effort to record and mix the sound of writing, sounds great on paper but cannot sustain the momentum for an entire album or, in most cases, even an entire song. Their self-titled debut collects six computer-sound-heavy compositions, mainly culled from the ambient spectrum. Compositions like “Being Born Broken” and “Mask” derive their soundscapes from the old computer trick hat with female robot voices, ambient waves, and emulations of natural sounds. Dongoski creates beautiful sound sculptures, but often mollycoddles the listener to sleep. It took me three tries to get through the album before finally using coffee to keep my eyes open.

Things get interesting around the third track, “Scattered Shavings,” when fragmented voice cutups interrupt a minimalist rainfall blur background. The composition sounds like the inside of a sewer, with creatures stirring and water slowly sliding down barriers, then morphs into a treated guitar-driven nightmare. The tune ends on a weak note, however, falling prey to generic computed ambience as a forced conclusion. Many tunes on the album follow suit, showing ability to transcend typical laptop compositions, then snapping its wings off in a giant monotony trap.

“The Shrine of Wreckless Illumination” showcases Drawing Voices’ strengths as composers. The song features a mystical blues guitar line battling with rat-squeak computer sounds. Airy ambience and bubbling metal scrapes soon join the rat squeaks, creating a dark landscape. The pattern repeats and ends with a train of metallic dissonance intercepting a pleading guitar lick and then howling into the night. With the click of a mouse, the band shows acceptance for the traditional and eagerness to add to the musical lexicon. If only they could maintain that feeling for an entire album.

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