CD Reviews

Rale – Probability A: Three studies for compositions of infinite length

July 18, 2013

Senufo Editions

William Hutson’s Rale project has always been a noise/drone based affair, the output of which has only partly caught my attention. With this new release on the Senufo editions label however he has taken the project on a step further. This disc contains three pieces that Hutson composed between 2009 and 2012, intending to play them as continuous loops at his home, apparently (and according to the Senufo website) to build up the courage required to insert long silences into what had been a drone based approach in the past. I hadn’t heard much of Rale’s previous output, but certainly this new disc, and approach appeal a lot to me.

Each of the three pieces here clocks in at exactly fifteen minutes, and each consists of passages of muted, softly coloured noise that fade gradually in and out, each lasting around ten seconds or so. The passages, which possibly originate from an analogue synth, but its hard to tell, differ slightly in pitch, and across the three tracks the textures alter, with the second piece from 2011 sounding slightly cleaner than the rougher textures of the opening 2009 work. The later works also seem to retain more of a melodic feel, but overall the general concept remains the same throughout the album. The feeling that this music leaves you with is somewhere between a classier Eno and the early trilogy of albums made by Thomas Köner. There is a lonesome, contemplative feel to the music, and an atmospheric sense of the forlorn, the hopeless. The soundtrack to an imaginary documentary about a long lost boat cast away at sea perhaps, there is nothing aggressive or foreboding about this work, but also, while the music could easily be described as calm and relaxing it doesn’t trigger the same trancelike state that drone music normally does with me. While we have soft sounds rising and falling amidst lengthy silences this music also doesn’t remind me at all of ant Wandelweiser music. It feels mostly cinematic, expansive, but not overpoweringly so and there remains a certain intimacy to the listening experience.

Its hard to pin down what I like about Probability A then. It makes for excellent listening late in the evening, particularly on humid evenings like those we have been having here of late when attempt sat sleep are hindered by oppressive temperatures and loud or busy music would get on the nerves. There is a minimalism and simplicity to the music that probably masks a great deal of thought applied to the compositions themselves. If the melodies make up a tune, they do so slowly that nothing can be discerned, and yet there is enough there to make the music listenable and pleasing to rest your ears around when bringing the day’s stresses and strains to an end. The final moments of the third track, as the low rumbling sounds seem to get even more distant and veer close to completely imperceivable are not only really very beautiful, but also seem to bring in the first moments of sleep perfectly. Lovely work then, not what I was expecting at all, and all the better for it indeed.

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