My introduction to Kyle Bobby Dunn came last year in the form of A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn, a sprawling collection of recordings spanning a five year period (2005-2009). The record included ambient works which featured treated guitar, piano, organ, strings and found sounds. It was clear that Dunn’s goal on AYPGTKBD was to provide a comprehensive overview of his quite formidable body of work and composing skills. On his new record Ways of Meaning however, Dunn has narrowed his aim considerably, whittling his instrumental palette down to his core apparatuses of expression, which are treated guitar and organ. The result is a focused, concise (40 minute long) work, which despite its seeming simplicity, evokes a remarkable vastness of mood and feeling.
Ways of Meaning opens with the short table setter (pun?) “Dropping Sandwiches In Chester Lake”. The track features long, shifting cloud-patch guitar swells which overlap delicately creating a gently layered entrance point. “Sandwiches” gives way quickly to the first liturgical solar rays of “Statuit”, a nine and a half minute echo drenched piece which conjures images of an early morning sun shining through an empty cathedral’s stained-glass windows.
“Canyon Meadows”, “New Pures” and “Movement For The Completely Fucked” make up the chest, abdomen and sex (pun again?) of the record. In these three middle pieces, Dunn brings in more dissonant tones which nicely offset “Statuit’s” gentle inviting qualities.
The sixth and final track on the record is “Touhy’s Theme”, an austerely reflective sign off which leaves the listener floating adrift rather than returning her safely “home”. Which is a good thing, because if we are talking about locating Ways of Meaning in our world today it is certain that the old comfort zones, the old stand by’s, the old “givens” need to be questioned and if necessary in certain cases abandoned. Kyle Bobby Dunn is aware of this fact, and his music conveys it definitively, and quite beautifully.