Andrew Anderson, "Vagrancies"
Following a multitude of self-released tapes and digital releases, Vagrancies is Austin, Texas's Andrew Anderson's first CD based work. Ostensibly created by the instrumentation and sources listed in the disc's liner notes, Anderson's treatment renders them largely unidentifiable, instead using them to construct something else entirely. Consisting of four long-form pieces connected with shorter interludes, Vagrancies covers a lot of ground, with an impressive amount of variety from piece to piece, but still a strong sense of continuity from one piece to the next.
Anderson sets the tone for the disc with the opening "Dressed in No Light." It's a massive, tumbling avalanche of reverberated clicks, with a foghorn-like sound giving a ghostly approximation of a melody. The entirety is bleak and dour, with a fascinating density peppered with spinning and sputtering passages of sound. "Shadows Are Roots" differs in what almost sounds like an indistinct twang of an instrument expanding through a bassy hum. The metallic twang stands out and cuts through, but not in a jarring manner. With Anderson throwing in some percussive knocks, scrapes, and a few wet thuds, there is a lot going on, but never does it come across as unfocused.
Andrew Anderson then adopts a more musical focus with the other two lengthy pieces, using looping structures and a more overt sense of composition. On "Vagrancies," featuring Thor Harris—a previous collaborator, there are some almost conventionally musical passages buried under chaotic layers of birds and other fluttering noises. Anderson keeps the piece active, blending these different segments to excellent effect. A sequence of white noise bursts and digital detritus towards the end build to a wonderfully intense climax. Animal field recordings also feature heavily on "Melting Time." Here, birds and/or small animal chirps exist under an aquatic rumble, with ancient wind chimes over loose, warbling tape noise. There is a little less in the way of variety compared to "Vagrancies," however it is engaging from beginning to end.
The interstitial bits that connect the longer pieces come across as less composed, but instead fascinating collages in their own right, mixing unsettling field recordings, sputtering radios, answering machine messages, and heavy processing throughout. Vagrancies balances that subtle sense of menace that is inherent in works focused on reworking everyday sounds into completely abnormal contexts, but with just the right amount of conventional structures to ground it. Beautifully ambiguous, Anderson's work covers all of the right territories to captivate.