Aquarelle is a style of painting using thinned transparent watercolours. Like last album title, Slow Circles, it's a good departure point for representing Ryan Potts’ project; an apt signifier for its deliberate pacing and cyclic accretion, bright shards of guitar melody, and designer blur. The music feels similarly crafted, as if distinct brush varieties had touched it with differing incidence to temper and tincture. Sung In Broken Symmetry finds guitars, pedals, and percussives, and cellist Brandon Wiarda, in four settings of soundscaping audacity. Ready those Fennesz and Tim Hecker refs, but caveat auditor, they're only part of the picture. As in my father’s proverbial house, ambient drone has many abodes. Potts’ guitar-wrung derivation differs from his laptop peers both in provenance and means of production. Like both, Aquarelle is about cathedrals of caustic distortion within which are sited sweet ceremonials of harmony. But there’s an analogue edge and lo-fi grain that aligns him otherwise; with the 4-track stud wall of sound of kindred spirit in shoegaze recon, Scott Cortez (aka lovesliescrushing); or Taiga Remains, now seemingly defunct project of Alex Cobb - no coincidence, say hello to Students of Decay’s curator.
“With Verticals” springs into life, a startlingly propulsive edifice replete with coruscating loops - crackling, distorted guitar sounds shadowed by languorous cello and quasi-Reichian percussion; an aura of stateliness pervades, with Wiarda's cello voice straining for audibility under vast veils of guitar-trailed fuzz and crackle. "A Strange Sweet Woe" starts with gentle classical cadences offering deceptive repose, quickly dispelled as it gives way to industrial churn and a roiling ocean of caustic shimmer that gradually cedes to a sombre guitar and piano coda. On "Origin" processed guitar sustains hum warmly beneath Zephyrs of static. Further crepitating masses arc across the soundfield, till an uncanny moan - that cello again, in a late reprise – comes to cut a swathe through the tonemass. "The Blue Light Was My Baby" begins with lazy acoustic meandering Americana, then succumbs to a MBV-inflected noise squall before returning to base.
An auspicious inauguration to SoD's subscription series, then, Sung In Broken Symmetry is a veritable yin-yang of cacophanous consonance, of dreamy din. Various currents find confluence, overlapping in recursions, strums turn into hums and weaves to heaves, soft ripples to static-charged tidal waves. And, like the devil, it’s all in the detail – glittering prizes buried within off-white noise, whose apparent caustic challenge Aquarelle steers safe from atonal harm.