“…the most glacial, sparse, detached sounds you’ll find this side of the Arctic circle” – Ian Maleney on Kyle Bobby Dunn‘s In Miserum Stercus.
Kyle Bobby Dunn makes ambient music in the truest sense. It is generally made from the most glacial, sparse, detached sounds you’ll find this side of the Arctic circle. His last few albums, culminating in the incredible two-CD-spanning Bring Me The Head Of Kyle Bobby Dunn, have seen him explore the limits of abstraction and tone, playing mostly on the very edges of hearing and challenging standard listening principles. In Miserum Stercus is no great departure for Dunn but opening track ‘Buncington Revisited‘ sees him speeding up his dynamics just that little bit, with increasingly intense shifts in volume happening noticeably quicker than in his recent work. At 12 minutes, it is the longest track on the album but it’s relatively long duration sees Dunn shifting tones and moods in the confident and controlled manner he is known for. A singular drone will be broken by an awkward minor chord variation, rippling through the air and subtly colouring whatever listening environment you happen to find yourself in.
The B-side flattens out again, moving imperceptibly slowly over three tracks that continue the sombre mood. The hilariously-titled ‘Meadowfuck‘ sees horn-like sounds emerge from the mists of a light (but never light-weight) drone, lonely, sad and distant. Gradually these sounds multiply and a host of weirdly triumphant chords appear almost momentarily, signalling an assured and almost happy resignation to some mysterious, melancholic duty. It’s a highlight of the album and one of the most interesting pieces that Dunn has created to date.
‘The Milksop‘ closes proceedings with a short, aggravated tone-poem that hovers on the edge of perception for most of its brief life. Waves of sound gradually begin to crash through the elongated notes, before the whole thing fades like a landscape at nightfall. The track highlights Dunn’s ability to create and manipulate mood with abstract tone, whether it’s over 20 minutes or two. Few artists working in ambient music can lay claim to the kind of confident and consistent aesthetic that Dunn has slowly hewn from the sounds nearest silence. In Miserum Stercus continues this subtle exploration and shows there’s more happening in the shadows than we ever could have expected.