From Dust to Dusk
Eerie sounds waft like spectral entities, generated by guitar and fed through a variety of machines which transform the notes into highly treated otherness. Chords slip and skitter like a young child crossing a frozen lake, achieving a crystalline distinction. There are instances in which the guitar strums untreated, counterpointing a violin-like cadence. The vocals start out sounding like a cathedral recital, but swiftly adopt a more modern resonance with liquid properties reminiscent of a ghostly opera. The voice trembles and warbles, each expression stretched into a sonorous call that combines humanity with a sense of timeless endurance. -- Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity Embracing the Glass are the duo Sean Carroll (guitar-controlled sounds) and Jeff Sampson (voice-controlled sounds) and this, their second recording, contains six tracks recorded 'in front of a live audience in various venues at various points in time'. The level of ambient music depth and texture they achieved in these live settings is quite the achievement. FROM DUST TO DUSK is a beautiful album which veers from ethereal floating minimalism to darker stretches of formless, more abstract, soundscapes. Sampson's voice, while usually treated somehow (e.g. deep echo) is almost always discernible as being of human origin, and frequently has a haunting and even delicate quality to it. Carroll's guitar is sometimes recognizable as such, but frequently it's indistinguishable from a variety of synths. The album begins with the best track, the stunning 'Moon Over Pi', which floats on clouds of gossamer notes and spacy washes above which Sampson's voice gently hovers singing in an unintelligible but beautiful language. His voice has a strong choir-like sound to it, and this makes the song even more peaceful and soothing. 'Enchanted' opens with a soft and sad acoustic guitar loop and occasional peals of sparse echoed electric guitar. Here, Sampson's voice is less altered and more straight-forward. I can't discern if these lyrics are an imaginary language or perhaps an ancient tongue, but I don't think it matters much as his singing is haunting regardless. Synth strings color the background in melancholic shades of deep blue/violet. The track unwinds patiently over it's near ten-minute length with subtle variations, yet has a sustained mood of sadness and longing. 'Man is Sand' is decidedly more abstract than the first two songs, beginning with an assortment of skitching noise effects and swirling textures but eventually veering into a feedback-like number, drenched in the same wall of sound approach as the duo Hammock brings to their music. 'Sombre' resonates better for me, with it's strummed and slightly twangy guitar, a-la Twin Peaks, and background reverberating synth textures containing a high-pitched timbre. Sampson's voice, again deeply echoed, adds a forlorn quality to the minimalism of the piece. 'Invocation' goes in a drastically different direction, with it's deep rumbling drones and overtone chanting-type vocals. While not oppressive or dark, the gravitas and weight of the music stands in marked contrast to the more ether-like strains of what has come before. Primal and powerful is how I would describe the cut. 'The Eastern Front' closes out the CD in superb fashion, with minimal bell-like guitar notes pealing off in deep reverb. Humming textures add breadth to the music and Sampson's wordless vocalizings, first in the mid-to-low range of the scale then back to his characteristic higher end, fit the stark landscape of the track perfectly. Expansive stretches of land are evoked by the sheer spaciousness of the music. Make no mistake about it, these two guys are talented! When you listen to this and recall that this is a live album, you'll probably be as mystified as I am (or else you're just too jaded). If you like your ambient music of the floating and formless variety, frequently interwoven with elements of beauty and sad, even tragic, delicacy (with the exception of 'Man is Sand', the only track I'm not overly fond of here), FROM DUST TO DUSK is going to knock you out. I especially urge you to give it a listen even if you're normally opposed to ambient music with vocals. If you're a fan of Jim Cole's work, check these two out. I solidly recommend the album. Rating: Very Good -- Bill Binkelman -- Wind and Wire / New Age Reporter.