Peter Wright: Desolation Beauty Violence CD


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Peter Wright never fails to amaze. With a 3 disc retrospective looming on the horizon from Last Visible Dog, and the reissue of this essential side (originally released on cd-r as Foxglove 026), it looks like the New Zealand expatriate may finally get his well deserved due. Perhaps the most striking elements of Wright’s work are the overwhelming senses of serenity and control which permeate his recordings. “Desolation Beauty Violence” is a prime example of Wright’s sonic mastery, showcasing both his inimitable finesse and the diversity of his evocative palette.

“Above Lewis Pass” opens the album, beginning with a plaintive guitar melody and the looping squeal of birdsong. Wright effortlessly works the piece into a billowing dirge by adding layer after layer of his signature Danelectro twelve string. The piece morphs into a haze of echoing tones before dying down to focus on the diminished refrain heard in the opening seconds. “Adrift at 3000 Ft.” segues seamlessly out of denouement of track one. The title of this piece proves entirely apt. Wright unleashes layers of pure sound from his guitar, sheets of shimmering bell tones and brooding drones. The results are simply beautiful.

“Like Clockwork” functions as a brief but engaging interlude, composed of clattery, ringing guitar chords. “Kashmir” follows, a dense web of iridescent microtonal drone, which subsides into polyrhythmic field recordings around the five-minute mark. The superb “Point Blank” sounds a bit like “Womblife”-era Fahey, all frozen chords and mournful drones. “Evening at Ben Ohay” is the centerpiece of the album, a twenty-minute meditation on a scintillating, velvety guitar drone. The piece has an almost cinematic feel to it, and its sweeping, atmospheric tones are completely transportive and otherworldly. “Leaving Town” concludes the album, a stunning flight propelled by Wright’s meticulous picking and brilliant sense of space.

“Desolation Beauty Violence” is a wonderful album. One of its strongest facets is the diverse terrain it traverses while remaining entirely cohesive. Wright’s constructions are quite masterful, ranging from stunning melodic laments to warm, solar drone flights. Ikuisuus has done a fantastic job with this much-needed reissue – Alex Cobb / Foxy Digitalis

Totally necessary reissue of this still-fucking-stunning 2003 side from this re-located New Zealander. Recorded in London, May-June 2003, Desolation Beauty Violence is mostly based around various manipulations of Danelectro 12-string guitar using minimal effects and field recordings but for the most part the source feels supremely dislocated. This is easily some of the most evocative proto-drone work to reach these ears in a while, with beautiful almost folk melodies that flutter on the edge of audibility cut up with a thick soup of early-evening smog and long forgotten geographies. Somewhere between early Flying Saucer Attack, Mirror and William Basinski. Highly recommended. New edition comes in a beautiful full-colour 4 panel fold-out digipak – Volcanic Tongue