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Robert Turman & Aaron Dilloway, "Blizzard"

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cover imageBlizzard is a luxurious reissue of a CDr Aaron Dilloway originally put out on his Hanson imprint back in 2009, presented here in high quality double vinyl.  Dilloway and Robert Turman recorded these four pieces together during an actual blizzard, which not only further enhances mood, but also seems to creep in throughout these lengthy compositions.  Largely based upon analog synthesizer and tape manipulation, the duo not only captures the frigid, isolated mood of being caught in a massive snowstorm, but the sounds of one as well.

Fabrica Records

The story goes that Dilloway was set to move from Ohio back to Michigan (where his wife and child had already begun settling in) when a massive storm hit.  Rather than stay in his then empty house alone, he paid a visit to Turman, and the two decided to record this album.  Four pieces, each spread across a side of vinyl, capturing these studio collaborations with a fully fleshed out, composed sense to them.  They channel this cold and desolate mood perfectly, and without as much harshness as I would have expected.

The first piece sets the stage very well:  a sustained semi-melodic passage of synthesizer has a distinctly musical tone to it, but all the while casts a creepy shadow.  What almost resembles haunted voices and ancient woodwind sounds drift through the piece.  The icy and lonely mood is amplified all the more by the sound of violent, blowing storm winds that may either be a field recording or an extremely accurate in studio simulation.

The second part continues with the buzzing synth theme, here a bit more dissonance than before.  Beneath this the two cast layers of deep, churning distortion that adds a tasteful bit of menace without pushing it too far into dark ambient sounding realms.  Textural passages become the focus, having a wet, crunchy sense to them like piling snow.  The composition finally transitions into more heavy distortion, like whiteout snow conditions until dropping away into a blackened expanse, like a moment of peace on a clear, frozen night.

The second record begins on a more rhythmic note, with loops of static and noise leading to some sense of rhythm, mimicking a snow plow crunching off in the distance.  The piece is dense with looped layers, high register hisses bursting over pulsating bass passages, resulting in a very dynamic and rhythmic piece.  The concluding composition sees the duo going back to the buzzing synths that defined the first record, tinged with unadulterated static.  There is a bit that could be a voice, or could be a horn, and that ambiguity just adds to the strength overall, closing the album on a cold, empty note befitting its title.

Very rarely does a record’s title so accurately describes the contents, and the duo do an undeniably excellent job at capturing the environment that cold day in January of 2009 in solely audio form.  It could not have hurt that the conditions under which Blizzard was recorded had a significant impact on the mood of this album, but I imagine that Turman and Dilloway could have created just as compelling of a work on a warm summer’s day.  Fabrica should also be commended for getting this album back out there, and in such a luxurious way.

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