I’ve been meaning to post about Mark Wastell’s contribution to the Cathnor Vignettes series for a week or so now, and it’s really not gotten easier. If anything this post only exists because it has gotten easier to talk about how it has not gotten easier.
First, let’s talk about what we have here. A roughly 15 minute long composition of pre recorded tubular bells that consists of 15 or so odd strikes* at the bell, and their resultant (relatively) uninterrupted decay. Sometimes they are on one side of the stereo field or another, sometimes they overlap, but really that is all the variation beyond the lengths between the strikes that there is to hear here. So you can probably guess why this is a difficult review.
On one hand, I may have told you enough already so that you will know what side of the fence you are on in terms of you desire to hear this release. In some ways you could, if you’ve heard such material before, imagine what this may sound like with a fair degree of accuracy. On the other hand however, things may not be so simple. I am, as the tentativeness of this review may suggest, planted firmly on the fence.
The music on “After Hours” is so elemental that discussing it critically would be like discussing a photograph of rain on a windshield. The subject matter is beautiful, melancholy, and sublime by it’s very nature, and also in this case, exquisitely captured. At the same time though it is so elemental that it is almost mundane. I can certainly say that it did not provide more for me beyond a familiar (if sublime) beauty. Certainly I have comparable recordings of Tibetan singing bowls purchased from incense shops that bear the same beautiful, elemental quality. Which leads me to ask, why Mark Wastell, and why now? The music contained herein is undeniably beautiful, and that may be my only problem (if you could call it that).
Maybe it is merely ambient music to chill out to, or maybe Wastell is up to something more which I cannot yet detect. Maybe I should stop thinking about it so much and focus on Mr. Wastell’s simple words:“After Hours; the work completed, time to contemplate. After Hours; down time, relaxation after so much effort. After Hours; pour the wine in celebration.”
* I’m not sure how exactly what actions are producing these sounds. It appears that the sounds are the results of strinking with a mallet, but it seems their envelopes have been altered via computer processing of some kind.