Northern Valentine & p d wilder – Untitled EP

Northern Valentine & p d wilder - Untitled EP

Northern Valentine & p d wilder - Untitled EP

Silber Records labelmates Robert Brown, of Philadelphia-based Northern Valentine, and p d wilder, of Texas-based Hotel Hotel, collaborated on this untitled, 6-song split EP released on the Gears Of Sand record label.  The all-instrumentals EP is a combination of solo compositions and live improvisations that Robert and p d recorded together while their bands jointly toured the U.S..

The first two tracks are Robert’s compositions, the next two tracks are live collaborations between Robert and p d from a NYC show, and the last two tracks are p d’s creations, but all are stamped with a similar signature of slow-building, droning movements. 

While some styles of music are intended as a form of temporary escape or distraction from the daily grind (i.e., bubblegum pop, disco, rave), other styles tend to turn the listener inward, focusing on hidden emotional terrain, either soothing the listener into pleasant submission or intensifying emotional disquiet.  The long and slow-developing songs on this EP fall into the latter category and it takes a listener with a stout ear to get through all 6 song in one go.

Robert’s opener “animals of the dead” is drawn out at over 12 minutes, full of minimalistic, slowly shivering, low-end strings and fluctuating, blown-glass sounds that create the feeling of a foggy harbor in outer space, with a starry twinkle here and there in the nocturnal vacuum.  Near the mid-way mark, the strings loom ponderously, giving more shape to the proceedings, as pendulous sounds materialize, forming a vibrating sphere of sounds that move in and out in volume.  The overall feeling is one of eerie disassociation from what is “known” as the usual composition of a song, which continues for the duration of the EP.

The 4 and a half-minute “solar wind” amplifies the desolation with sharply cold, windswept, rumbling sounds and twisting-dial radio static through which a garbled low-register male voice reaches out, sounding as monotone as the cylons in the 1970s TV series Battlestar Galactica.  It’s as if the cities of Earth have been leveled and all that is left is this past transmission of whirring, twittering sonics as the vocals fade in and out.

 The next track, “untitled #1”, is one of two live, collaborative efforts, and contains the juxtaposition of serious guitar drones versus odd noises.  Amorphous, hovering background sonics merge uneasily with metal ring tings, clinking plastic chips, and what sounds like the squeaky cries of a tropical bird, while repetitive, delicate, reverb guitar notes building up a third of the way through the song.

The last collaboration, “untitled #2”, is a somber affair and almost 22 minutes long, filled with guitar lines and synth notes and, again, the use of odd effects.  A continuous, attenuated push of low-key synths and strings build up amid the restless clatter of plastic chips, giving off the feel of standing in a factory assembly line, piecing together some type of throw-away, plastic atrocity.  Lamenting violin scrapes mix with other, detuned orchestral instruments by the finish.

P d’s track, “amx actic”, is relatively short at just over 4 minutes, brimming with watery, slightly bending strings and wavering flute, sounding like an orchestral maneuver on a warped tape.  The 12-minute closer and p d song “ballet” hosts deep and darker resonances of slowly-rising strings, contemplative flute, and hanging guitar drones.  

Gears of Sand