There’s something infinitely grand about Ian William Craig’s compositions. His collage-like recordings are shapely pieces of susurrous symmetry and processing. Craig’s operatic voice, which he uses in a myriad of ways, layers his art with a deeply human emphasis. Thresholder, his new record (Fatcat Records) is a collection of sounds defined by being nearly formless while bubbling and bursting with life of all kinds.
The space and vast textural landscapes found on Thresholder are synonymous with beginnings. Taken apart from a song commissioned to reflect the outer limits of the universe and phenomena such as black holes, Craig’s cut and paste technique on Thresholder is alluringly dense.
The unexpected rotary on “Elided” sounds like a speeding vehicle, barely touching the pavement. The vibrations are nearly not there. Craig’s vocal looping’s are haunted and holy. Easily meditative and reflective, “Elided” stirs and churns the hard bits of life, revealing eternal pockets of place and time. “Some Absolute Means” blurs the edges and drives deeper into a planetary wilderness. Craig’s voice adds a human element not always present in digitized whitewashes. Power metastasizes from the back in the shape of a mighty organ. Time evades and train-like sounds dissolve leading fluently into the exquisite “TC-377 Poem”. The wind in the speakers and blurts of vocals imprint like a dream, spring boarding into the stirred looping of “Mass Noun”. Best imagined as a voluminous pot deep with flavors and aromas twisting in a vapor-like dance, “Mass Noun” coats the stove and windows with heaviness. The human recorded movements reshape into drones, until only taps and lonely clicks remain.
Throughout Thresholder, Craig’s ghost-like production conjures a Middle Age monastery, where voices and prayers flutter and drape cold walls. There’s a subtle melody shrouded in the early morning’s mystery on “And Therefore the Moonlight”, which whirls and pulses otherworldly sounds and reflections. The aptly titled “The Last Westbrook Lament” is a ghostly looping of electronics and voice. Like a slow hand moving across your face as you sleep, Craig’s touch is unflustered.
Ending track “More Words for Mistake” returns to the reverberations and seams in the road. The pulse is omnipresent and the background unravels despite its heavenly creation. Craig goes inward time and time again to reach outward. Frequently void of definable rhythms and inevitable structures, Thresholder is a gift of stirring sounds coming full circle without resembling anything in our astral plane.