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Dale Lloyd and Various Artists - Amalgam

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Artist: Dale Lloyd and Various Artists

Album: Amalgam

Label: Conv

Review date: Aug. 23, 2005

The sound of running water rolls over high pitched sheets of heavily processed sitar drone. Several minutes on and the stream’s natural song gives way to a duet performed by siblings on cut glass, before both the light of the crystal and color of the drone are engulfed in a dense electronic fog. These sounds comprise the first three tracks of Amalgam, but you would hardly spot the joins, such is the artistry of American composer Dale Lloyd. He maintains the trick throughout the album, a feat all the more commendable since each of the 11 pieces on display are based on a contribution from a different collaborator.

Lloyd’s primary role here is that of editor-in-chief, one he fulfils through processing and the occasional electronic embellishment. It is he who shapes the raw materials provided by each guest, be it a field recording, lap top collage or resonating wind chime. From these building blocks Lloyd constructs his most delicate sonic sculptures. This approach works best when the gifts bestowed are of a more organic variety, such as the blissful haze created by Robert Horton’s strings on the opening track, or during the subtle strumming of Heribert Friedl’s hackbrett (a variety of hammered dulcimer). It is these entries that poke out from beneath the uniformity (itself no bad thing!) of Amalgam’s simplicity, provoking Lloyd into raising his game. He is more than equal to the challenge. But the majority of Lloyd’s co-creators come from the field of electronic composition and it is with these that he engineers an atmospheric blanket of slowly shifting, almost static, nebula clouds.

For the closest reference point think the sonic collages of Lawrence English. Lloyd’s track in conjunction with Scott Taylor, in particular, approximates the unique sound of explosive 44-gallon drums popping in the morning sun from English’s superb Ghost Towns recording. Madrid’s Con-v label is gradually building a reputation as one of the finest purveyors of sound as art. With Amalgam the imprints standing can only increase.

By Spencer Grady

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