Review: A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn

Kyle+Bobby+Dunn+twigchess1 Kyle Bobby Dunn asked if I would check out his new double album. A quick online sample was encouraging so I decided to give it a go. Stunning. I feel it's important to say that I don't know if I have the vocabulary for this style of music. Here's my best shot.

This is ambient, minimal music. The tracks range from 4-17+ minutes in length for a total of just under 2 hours. This explanation from the label's website is helpful...

Utilising an instrumental palette of guitar, strings and brass, often played by classically trained musicians drafted in on the spur of the moment, the sounds of these sessions were recorded as Dunn dictated and then reworked via computer processing into spine-tingling soundscapes.

Dunn's compositions here are fully rich in timbre, painterly, hopelessly romantic and haunting balanced between a wash of pure sound yet subtle dance of classical instrumentation. Occupying a truly cinematic scope, these pieces can transport the listener from the deepest and most forgotten landscapes to the furthest recesses of time.

LP033-front-panel I liken it to being in a Solaris (movie) dream, but even that is too melodic. I would take two above words and put them together: "textured soundscapes." Everything builds and fades without sudden surprise. It's tide, not waves. And it's expansive and mysterious. It's full of a sense of "the in-between," for me. As if trapped between two worlds. And we willingly linger there. 

Where there are storms, and there are a couple (like "Empty Gazing"), they crawl across the plains in full sight. There's plenty of time to take shelter so you stand in the calm before and feel what is coming. There's a sense of smallness before it.

I also appreciate this explanation from CokeMachineGlow concerning the minimal undulation of the music...

The effect—and I’m guessing this is the intention—is similar to watching the sea from the window of a gently undulating aircraft; Kyle Bobby D knows when you’re over that much water you only want to undulate so much.

I appreciate more than anything else the sense I get from this music of time slowing. It's like living in that first moment in the event horizon of a black hole. Experiencing a sense of timelessness in a smart-phone-calendar-alarm world is of massive benefit.

This album takes time and isn't easy. Don't let that scare you. Well, let that scare you a little bit. If you only want 3 minute ditties, this isn't where you turn. This isn't for the person who buys the Hershey's bar. It's for the one who picks the 70% cocoa over the 60% and can give you the reasons why. And I hope it's for the person who is willing to try something new and find something worth the effort. Turn off the phone, take a deep breath or two while decanting an aged red and enjoy.

This is the only place I know to pick up A Young Person's Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn. I highly recommend it.