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  Fading Tapes
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Fading Tapes are an ambient duo from Szczytno, Poland. I have no idea how to pronounce that, but apparently it is a small town in the Northeast of Poland. In this band, Krzysztof Siwkowski mixes the music and plays guitars and synths and Marcin Lasek adds percussion.

I think that they consider themselves to be a post-rock act, but they are a far cry from the by-the-numbers Mogwai clones populating that landscape. Siwkowski and Lasek are forging their own path with very long compositions that flow slowly in odd directions. I think that they owe more of a debt to Talk Talk and Stars of the Lid and Rachel's than they do to the more rock side of post-rock.

This album consists of five "circles".

The First Circle lasts for 20 minutes, so settle in for a long haul. The first 5 minutes are a slowly growing wavering drone, effected guitar under a weight of eBow that slowly grows into a reverbing void. And then, at 5 minutes, percussion starts -- a clacking sound and the faint tish of a hi-hat. After 10 minutes, the percussion jells into a real pattern -- stills clattered and sparse, it's not like Lasek is channeling Lars Ulrich here -- that floats over the haze of guitar and drone. This really reminds me of Talk Talk's final album -- the sparse drumming, almost jazzy, over the wavering ambience. It is very lovely and your patience in letting the song evolve is rewarded. At the very end, there is a nice chugging drum riff over reverbing guitar that reminds me of Auburn Lull, just a minute or two to bring the song to it's final, eventual, conclusion .

The overall feel of this is jazz-like. Not that it is all skronks and squeaks, but rather that it has an organic, playful feel, like the best jazz did (and does) before that genre got its head stuck up its own ass in "improvisation".

Second Circle clocks in at just over 14 minutes. Again, patience is key here. Echoed guitar, slowly meandering but more clearly a guitar than on the previous intro, wavers under a steady drum beat, like Lasek is impatient, just tapping his sticks against the rim of a drum waiting to be let loose. Occasionally he spills over into the cymbals -- he just can't help it as he just contains too much drumming here and it is hard to keep it all in. But still the guitar wanders...and at 5 minutes or so, Lasek just let loose. Again, don't think of metal drumming, this is a persistent yet scattered jazzy drumming, a steady pattern of taps and cymbal tishes that accompany the wandering guitar drone as it meanders to an eventual end.

Third Circle is a mere eight minute tune, more of a wavering Tangerine Dream sine wave than the Yellow6 guitar drones of the previous two pieces, and the drumming is a little thuddier. Fourth Circle blends right in after a short gap, the synth drone wavering over drums that are nice and scattered.

Fifth Circle is fifteen minutes and consists of a metallic sine wave and a clattering, clanging percussion. This is almost like ambient industrial music, if Skinny Puppy decided to make a 15 minutes slow growing tune. Or maybe like something in a sci-fi movie, where all of the noises are strange things going on in the space ship. As it grows, the percussion takes over this one -- layers and layers of it, but not dense, just lots of clattering and chugging and shaking and tapping noises all creating a dense wall of sound.

The five circles all draw from a similar and somewhat limited sonic pallet. But Siwkowski and Lasek do a lot with it, and it you have the patience for these long tracks there is a lot to like. This has been my favorite ambient release of this year. Well done.

Related Links: (whole album)

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