When I interviewed Gabriel Saloman in 2012, he insisted that the work of Yellow Swans—his prolific noise/drone duo with Pete Swanson—was “body music,” intended to get limbs moving and pulses accelerating. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t always respond that way. “A lot of folks weren’t able to go there with Yellow Swans over the years,” he lamented. “People didn’t reciprocate with their bodies as much as I always hoped.”
The respective solo careers of Saloman and Swanson (who dissolved Yellow Swans in 2008) are perhaps attempts to rectify that situation. In Swanson’s case, he’s pioneered a visceral brand of techno-noise that has scored him gigs on body-filled dancefloors. For Saloman, body-sound interaction has taken the form of scores created for choreographed dance performances. The Disciplined Body is his third such work in the past three years, following 2012’s Adhere and 2013’s Soldier’s Requiem. All three combine tense, driving soundscapes with threads of kinetic narrative. If you didn’t know they were made to accompany dancers, you might guess it anyway; the music is constantly moving, and often in many directions at once.
On Saloman’s previous two albums, he concocted that motion with diverse sounds and styles, using several instruments and noticeable sonic shifts from piece to piece. Both are thematically coherent, but they cover lots of terrain. The Disciplined Body is more narrowly-focused. It’s a single 35-minute piece stretched across two LP sides, and in some ways it’s a minimalist work. Long tones predominate, and they’re not always dense; in places this is some of the simplest, least-layered sound Saloman has made.
Yet The Disciplined Body continually builds and escalates, always going somewhere. Much of that effect is due to Saloman’s use of percussion, a tool that seems to have particularly caught his fascination since Yellow Swans’ demise. It was especially crucial on Soldier’s Requiem, whose militaristic drumming and march-like beats evoked the aftermath of war. Percussion is more subtle and sparing on The Disciplined Body, but it’s just as integral. When it does weave its way into the narrative—particularly in two rattling, snare-roll-heavy sections on side one—its thrust gives Saloman’s ambience a tangibly physical dimension.
In fact, the percussion is so important that it has an effect even when it’s not there. There’s no discernible beat for the first half of the album’s second side, yet you feel a pulse, a slow wave that rises even when it ebbs. Halfway through, rhythm emerges in a heartbeat-mimicking bass-drum throb. That pushes the surrounding music into determined overdrive, as reflective guitar tones coagulate into miles-deep noise. This compelling climax recalls some of Yellow Swans’ best moments (the majestic “Mass Mirage” comes to mind), but with the kind of muscle-stretching that’s specific to Saloman’s current vision. It’s like watching a human form being gradually inflated until it becomes a giant.
All this physicality—the way Saloman’s music embodies human motion—is perhaps why his solo work doesn’t feel dry or incomplete. Often scores are too conceptual to sound like fullly-formed music, or their scope seems limited—you sense there’s something else going on, but since you can’t see it, you can’t really hear it either. But nothing’s missing on The Disciplined Body. Everything you need to know is right there in Gabriel Saloman’s rich, moving music.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1pEJK7z