A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Static Reason
Sounds Like: The Terminator, Sunset, anti-gravity, motherboard, decontamination chamber, Natural Snow Buildings
Slow Kitten is the noisey drone moniker of Angel Ortega, who normally operates under the name Dive Signals. We’ve been following his output since the J’s Heaven daze, when he was first starting out, and he has kept very busy indeed. He’s put out 12 records as Duve Signals, one records as The Coast, and 2 Slow Kitten records to boot, plus playing a whole bunch of shows in his native Orange County. He is clearly hungry for the fire.
Slow Kitten seems intent on fusing traditional drone moves with noise action; there’s pillowy loops that sway like anemone, but there’s also martial beats and staticky fuzz.
Here’s the official scoop:
The inner workings of the Slow Kitten project are primarily based on blending heavily manipulated samples, including field recordings, with live traditional and electronic instrumentation. Using improvisation and heavy studio production Ortega strives to conjure unique psychedelic atmospherics inspired by various noise and drone aesthetics including glitch, power electronics and ambiance.
Which brings us right back to our central concern: how does one make music out of pre-existing sound? And how to tell if it’s any good?
Ortega seems intent on blending sounds, seeing what kind of possible combinations he can coax out of his rig. He is full of endless curiosity, it seems like he’s trying to catalog every sound on Earth. He’s trying to get it all down. He’s trying to make something. He’s trying to tell you something. He’s trying to make something happen. Taking slivers of Southern California doldrums and swallowing them down like thermometer mercury, he sprays his quicksilver across synapse forests, and we are all walking the holographic plateau.
The recordings on Free Drone High seem improvised, which puts it close to the noise camp, and it seems to me that Slow Kitten lays tracks to tape, to be processed, layered and arranged. The album flows like a leaking volcano, so if there has been any slicing, its very subtle. It allows the mood to settle and set-in. You can let this record play like a Buddha box, all day long.
There is a particular feeling you get, listening to loopy music. Yr central nervous system clicks on the patterns, and you are constantly shifting in and out of the known. It makes you feel like yr falling asleep, keeping yr eyes open: that must be why they call it hypnagogic pop. It also calls upon all the associations of recorded media, with its attendant ghosts, nostalgia and trance. Its like a memory you can’t get out of yr head. On this record, these skipping churning memories are offset by thick, rich drone textures, and the odd field recording, which sets the mood, gives it context, lets it breathe. Free Drone High puts you in the middle of a scenario, and it is up to yr nervous system to deduce exactly what the heck is going on. Probably some kind of transcendentalist alien visitation.
It seems like most of Ortega’s synthesizers are digital, so there’s a 3d finish to a good portion of this record, which makes it feel as if yr walking through a Virtual Reality arcade, the inevitable cyberpunk assocations. This is further enhanced by the Brad Fiedel drum line of the album opener, Full Tense Sweep. Free Drone High will fill yr afternoon with androids; hackers hanging out in shopping malls; and leave you in outer space.
Like most people who are obsessed with layering sounds, it seems like Ortega is intent on releasing every scrap of music in his vicinity, every sketch and tone. The songs, (or movements, or pieces), are fully realized, involved and intricate, they’re just long, and there’s lots of them. This is music for people who sit around and listen to music all day long; for people who walk around w/ headphones on, for people who remix reality themselves. I had it looping all day long, as i was typing about horror movies, but it was not until i strapped on a pair of headphones was i truly swallowed by this record. I would say this record would be best enjoyed by anybody who has been know to enjoy the ’90s FAX compilations of Pete Namlook, Eno’s ambient records, or Nadja‘s burning bliss.
Angel Ortega is passionate, driven; this will take you places. If he keeps it up, he will refine his experimentalist edge to a diamond edge sheen, and we shall be treated to the perfect pop ambient album.
[Download or stream] now, from Static Reason Recordings.