Release Date: May 13, 2014
Record label: Constellation
Genre(s): Avant-Garde, Alternative/Indie Rock, Field Recordings, Sound Sculpture
With their collective experience with groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Growing, David Bryant and Kevin Doria are no strangers to creating carefully crafted sonic landscapes. On Shortwave Nights, the full-length debut of their recording project Hiss Tracts, the pair weave together field recordings and an array of acoustic and electronic instruments into a stunning collection of drifting, ambient soundscapes. While these kinds of experimental records can often come across as distant and detached, there's something warm and inviting about Shortwave Nights.
If you’re one of those people (to borrow a line from Denis Norden) that would sit up late at night with the radio on underneath the covers not listening to John Peel but to the static fuzz between stations, then this album might well appeal. Not that this is an album full of the detuned radio hubbub, far from it. Sometimes in the all encompassing dark, huddled under the all-protecting duvet, shapes and sounds would make themselves apparent in the chaos.
Some 17 years ago, long before post-rock became the dirty term it is today, the initial vinyl release of F♯ A♯ ∞ was put out by Constellation. ‘The Sad Mafioso’ (for many Godspeed You ! Black Emperor’s signature tune and undoubtedly their most widely heard) was first presented in its briefer, subtler, embryonic form. Rather than the aggressive ten minute crescendo we all know from the CD version, the five minute vinyl ‘Sad Mafioso’ consists only of the opening stem.
Shortwave Nights, the new album from sound-sculpting duo Hiss Tracts, essentially operates as a long-form collage, a glue-and-paste art project unfolding in real time. Consisting of Canadian post-rockers David Bryant and Kevin Doria (of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Growing respectively), Hiss Tracts specialize in both ambience and ambiance, in finding both pointillist use for carefully culled sounds and emotive, cinematic effect for the album’s repeating auras of dread, unrest, and wonder. Indeed, Shortwave Nights is an apt title for the album, a forty-five minute short-film of strange buzzing sounds overheard in close proximity, almost intrinsically evocative of witching hours.