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Scott Taylor - Castaway

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Artist: Scott Taylor

Album: Castaway

Label: Conv

Review date: Apr. 19, 2005

Employing much the same methodology as Chris Watson and Peter Cusack, Scott Taylor spends his time patrolling sprawling city landscapes and various urban settings, carefully documenting the sounds he finds there with his microphone. But, whereas those aforementioned artists are happy to take a backseat to the environments they record, directing all the focus of attention upon the world’s taken-for-granted natural phenomena, Taylor attempts to leave his personal imprint behind – re-civilizing civilization.

Feeding field recordings into his computer, Taylor builds up dense audio collages, adding echo and reverb to complete the snapshots of sound. As in the work of Francisco Lopez, identifying the source material is not always possible, but the opening two tracks of Castaway seem to place great emphasis on elemental forces, as the timbres of amplified winds and rain ricochet off city infrastructures to create a deep, aggressive drone of Köner-esque proportions. “Nightfall,” in particular, sees Taylor use this natural sound world to create a wall of distortion, a ferocious assault of ear-bending fury. The elements continue to prevail up until two minutes into the third track, “Manhattan.” Featuring extra recordings courtesy of Hidekazu Minami, this piece slowly blossoms into a shimmering thing of tranquil beauty, like an excerpt from one of Fennesz’s most recent albums. Chords seemingly grow from the nucleus of the one preceding it whilst, in the background, the not so musical machinations of industry make for an interesting counterpoint, producing one of this album’s several highlights.

As Castaway progresses, the humanistic elements gradually take the ascendancy. Taylor’s re-civilizing ethic begins to predominate. The choral segment of “Against All Odds – Rescue” could be taken from the infamous performance of that loyal band of musicians which remained on board the Titanic as both ship and crew met their watery end. This segues beautifully into the final short piece, “Last Orders.” A junkyard phonograph starts up and the old record’s surface noise almost obliterates the delicately fingered piano as it plays a sad barroom lament before a final, unfinished note is left suspended in mid-air.

By Spencer Grady

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