A Guide For Reason XIII – XIV (review in textura)

from textura:

A Guide For Reason: XIII – XIV
Faith Strange

Mike Fazio issues material so infrequently on his Faith Strange label that when a new release does appear it feels all the more special. The first installment of his A Guide For Reason project, I – VI, surfaced in 2009 and was shared with a close circle of friends and fellow artists; two years later the second edition materialized, this one titled VII – VIII, naturally enough. By his own description, the project is an “abstract, exploratory, and left-field musical endeavor” whose “difficult” music isn’t created with commercial or personal gain in mind. As is his wont, Fazio offers minimal detail about how the material on this latest chapter was generated, preferring instead to let the music speak for itself and for the listener to experience its two long-form soundscapes on their own terms. Again, in Fazio’s own words, “This music has no purpose other than it is.”

On some of his recordings, guitar playing is front and center (see 2012’s Quiet World release All At Once The Remote Go Forth My Soul And My Seeking, The Unknowable Becomes Known, for example); the A Guide For Reason material, by comparison, shifts the focus away from guitar—at least insofar as it’s recognizable as such—for a more abstract presentation where instrument identification recedes in importance. Again the focus is on sound in its pure form, even if it’s instrumental and by its very nature abstract.

The music certainly isn’t lacking in incident. Throughout their twenty-minute explorations, the two pieces mutate with regularity, altering their shape from one moment to the next in natural manner. Like fingerprint whorls, their respective parts assemble into logical yet unpredictable wholes, and the circuitous paths the settings follow as they advance towards their destinations are packed with micro-detail.

After “The Wonder Room (Letting Through All the Hidden Powers)” emerges from an industrial-tinged mist, curlicues of fluttering sound appear, and in the minutes that follow Fazio shows himself to be an attentive and nuanced sculptor of sound. The material convulses with rhythmic insistence during one episode, not so dramatically that the overall balance of the piece is negated, while in another sonar-like blips form a melodic motif of sorts alongside percussive whirr and thrum. Operating at a slightly more restrained dynamic level, “The Road to the Beginning Again (What Gets Left Behind to Which One Always Returns)” continues the aural stimulation with a potpourri of contrasting sounds: insectoid clicks, metallic scrapes, and ambient hum suggestive of overhead planes among them.

Though of course one could describe the pieces by itemizing their details in the order in which they appear, doing so would arguably miss the point. In these are settings, the details are important, yet it’s the whole—their gestalt, if you prefer—that’s critical. That is, they should be experienced as wholes, not parts, even if those wholes are restlessly shape-shifting. As is always the case with a Fazio production, the release (prepared in a hand-made edition of fifty copies) has been presented with great care, with in this case the CD-R housed inside a tri-fold cover, itself within a fold-out, die-cut cover.

June 2015

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  1. Wonderful Wonderful review from Textura. They simply understand what you’re all about, as they articulate so descriptively the tone and temperament of your work. Bravo once again for getting great and much deserved attention. I’m writing today, and guess what I’ll have on the stereo! Cheers Joey


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