Sunday, October 21, 2012

Andrew Liles & Daniel Menche - The Progeny of Flies (2008)

Andrew Liles and Daniel Menche are both influential and highly regarded members of the experimental music world, so naturally their team up raises high expectations. Faced with that kind of pressure, they chose to deliver an album about the life cycle of flies. Well, at least it's original.

The Progeny of Flies is a subtle, sinister record that is long on atmosphere and imagination. I've always said that a good ambient record allows room for the listener to insert his own thoughts and interpretations, and in this the record very admirably succeeds. It plays like the soundtrack to all the quiet, suspenseful bits at the beginnings of horror films, where you know something bad is going to happen but you're not sure what or when.

The album is divided up into four lengthy tracks named after various stages in the development of flies. The first of these, "Eggs," consists of a slowly shifting patchwork of electronic drones, low rumbles matched by higher, slowly unfolding synth melodies. It serves as a kind of warm up for what is yet to come, not giving away too much while offering considerable promise.

The second track builds o this, adding Liles' minimalist, Satie-like piano. Liles has an uncanny ability to extract an immense amount of atmosphere from just a couple of methodically repeated piano chords, and the supplemental bass thumpings and rumblings are more than sufficiently unsettling.

The third track, "Pupa," opens with the unexpected shriek of a horse's neigh, followed by the erratic plucking of some stringed instrument which I can't quite identify. Gradually, this fades away and is replaced by gentle metallic clangs and other acoustic sounds, heightened as ever by dark electronics.

The album concludes with the final stage, "Metamorphosis," in which the tensions builds to a climax , incorporating all that came before and more. Ghostly choirs, a repeated four-note piano motif, harrowing electronic groans and buzzes and finally the actual buzzing of the titular flies.

The album as a whole is very well structured, with each track building on the previous one for an ever increasing atmosphere of paranoia and menace, and while it certainly rewards close listening, it also works great as low background music to terrify any unwanted guests who have overstayed their welcome.

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