Two words: slow burn. Slowly unfolding aural shapes, bending, intersecting, assimilating. They creep up on you, just like the roaches in E.G. Marshall's apartment in Creepshow. The justly-titled Transcollaboration is a loophound's closed-circuit video booth, a pylon on the runway of guitar-loop recordings, an oasis in the desert of heavily amorphous ambient music. American guitarist James Sidlo and Welsh guitarist/synthesist David Cooper Orton hit mutual chords on the Looper's Delight online forum, and began mailing tapes back and forth, adding tracks on each go-around. Careful multi-tracking, editing and refining culminated in an hourlong sojourn into the realm of sound collage, first explored in the 1970s by the likes of Tangerine Dream, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, and Steve Roach.
Transcollaboration is distinctively marked by the presence of clean acoustic guitar and expressly organic drumloops. As the first trio of tracks, "Thing2," "Thing3," and "Thing4," consist of familiar-sounding, slowly-evolving soundscapes not dissimilar to Fripp's, the spaciousness is not without breadth, even hauntingly noirish, e.g., the wonderfully-titled, minute-long "Garage Gamelan." The heavily-reverbed, spaced-out guitar chords of "Delayed In Traffic" evoke the charm of Djam Karet's Suspension & Displacement. "There And Back And There Again" has a curiously 'J. Carpenter' twist, with the modulating gnatlike sequence and throbbing bass. The drumloop is anything but Carpenter, however, and considering this is Track Eight, the listener has arrived at a fork in the road: "East Of Ealing" and "Between Breaks" come as jolts, with upbeat tempi, quick-firing Methenyesque passages, and drum programming by guest DJ Shadow (okay, just kidding about that last tidbit)—wait, isn't this supposed to be a sound collage project? Diversity is the spice of life, they say. "Re:Cooperation, Part One" and "—Part Two" subsequently return us to spatial shores.
There are certain clichés better left collecting dust, but younger minds breathe new life into old conventions; one of these clichés is the heartbeat metronome: timing a rhythm against a heartbeat, or letting a heartbeat sequence act as the foundation. The minute-and-a-half-long "Texas Trees" is one of the best examples to utilize this motif I've heard yet—it's closer to a grandfather clock. Crank up the reverb, let the note decay completely, and presto. Also a two-parter, "Never Enough" is the most overtly-organic and melodic movement of the hour; the sync'ing of guitar tracks recorded an ocean apart via modern technology is a beautiful thing.
They may be loop aficionados separated by the Atlantic, but I'd love to hear a real drummer laying down the backbeat behind Sidlo & Orton—the fruit of the fallout could be something along the lines of Jade. Nice going.