Whilst it’s clear that you may well want your surgeon or bus driver to have the focus of a zen master, the act of listening to music presents an example of a mind at the junction of deep listening and other more distracting thoughts. As listeners, we are always sitting on the razors edge of giving ourselves to the sonic adventure unfolding, and ping ponging around various aspects of the music that remind us of a whole host of other stuff.
Things are rarely as they seem and taking anything at face value often misses the complex and sometimes important web of references and back stories. This continual omni-faceted wormhole of layers opens up a world akin to a form of multi-tasking.
This 3-dimensional layering is instantaneously apparent as Prana Crafter’s Beggar’s Tomb twists out the lysergic mist. A reed-bed of sound etched against subdued light. A 19-minute monolith which feels like it grows out his previous Blooming of the Third Ear and the syrupy aftermath of A.R. & Machine’s Echo. This is a thick web of chugging grooving heaviness. Things then top out around 9 minutes in a guitar fireball, off centre, down some nearby rabbit hole, before the whole piece spectacularly unclips from gravity into a huge throbbing drift.
NightFall creates another similarly extended zone again. ragenap teasing out a line of tone that revels in an ambiguous drone. The precision is bathed in a pleasing fuzzy patina like an engine leaking oil onto a carpet. Eventually fingerpicking guitar wrapped in a blanket of fuzz where the joy is in the acid etched lo fi beauty. Empty space between the notes are quickly saturated in a way that frames John Cale’s superbly whacked early masterpiece Summer Heat. NightFall slowly builds into a weird temple of illusions where elements that quite simply aren’t there, are plainly manifested in some fully realised kosmic ceremony.
Other than the friendship that Prana Crafter and ragenap enjoy, on an initial listen, both pieces are personal takes on guitar-based excursions into the unknown. However, what’s touching and ties No Ear To Hear is something that’s a step beyond what’s presented sonically. The friends shared the sad news that Robert Hunter, the much-celebrated Grateful Dead lyricist, had passed away. Unknown to each other, both pieces were made in isolation, two thousand miles apart on the very same evening. The following morning, both learned they’d spent the previous evening mapping out a new zone in the tracks collected here.
Whilst anyone who knows either Will or Joel will testify, the ‘Dead’, is part of the deep soup they both drawn from. Whilst the subsequent titling of everything here frame a beautifully subtle tribute to Hunter, it’s also not too much of a stretch to see that band as one of the springboards in birthing the music presented here. It’s not at the fulcrum of enjoying this 37-minute split release but definitely adds to its gravity.
Light years from some formulaic retracing, No Ear To Hear is a joyous statement of kosmic coincidence, creative dot joining and a layered back story that birthed this music. Everything is cause and effect – multitasking in the zone…
No Ear To Hear is out now on Baked Tapes