Aluminium: 10 Years of And Their Refinement Of The Decline


Stars Of The Lid – And Their Refinement Of The Decline

Released April 7th, 2007 on Kranky Records

Stars Of The Lid, here at least, deal with symphonies that have been compressed and stretched out and compressed again until the word “minimalist” doesn’t mean anything anymore.  This is music where the drones fade in and linger and then fade out again, creating the definition of ambient music and also establishing the purest sense of a symphony of drones.  Often times the tracks presented here feel like the tail-end of some greater whole, like someone cut off all of the end bits of Godspeed You! Black Emperor suites and stitched them together to create something new and bizarrely compelling.

There is something akin to Phillip Glass here, or a more spaced-out Brian Eno, but neither is really accurate.  It’s stark music that is too atomized to really be all that striking, and yet you’ll find yourself coming back to certain moments throughout the impressive length of the album time and time again.  There is a certain peace to the record, although it is an edgy peace, not entirely at home with itself.  If we return to the previous Godspeed analogy:  if Godspeed is the soundtrack of the apocalypse (as I’ve thought on numerous occasions) then And Their Refinement Of The Decline is the soundtrack to the still world that comes after the apocalypse, when the dust settles and the spiders spin their webs and all is but a silent, irradiated ruin.


Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory – “Elements Of Light”



So, as it turns out, Hendrik Weber loves the bell.  He used the instrument to great effect in places on his 2010 minimalist techno masterpiece Black Noise, and cranked that up a notch with a live set in 2011 that collaborated with other bell players to make a sort of intensely bell-focused minimalist suite.  Elements Of Light is the studio attempt to recreate that set, and while it succeeds in making the bell exciting for longer than I suspected that it could be, it still ends up dragging by the end.  There is only so much you can do with the instrument, after all, and in a minimalist setting there are only so many paths that you can take with it.  Still, it reminds me strongly of the creepiest moments of the Fallout 1 & 2 soundtrack (reprised in New Vegas, of course), which only adds points on my end.  Good stuff but not everyday listening.