[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Chronicling the intrigues of two troubled stars via their discovery of some vintage magnetic tapes, ‘The Delaware Road’ is a journey which is neither fully electronic nor is it entirely acoustic. The artists involved with this (and there are quite a few) have made their pieces reflect the various facets which their subjects are drawn to. For example, Dolly Dolly delivers a strangely engaging spoken word composition entitled “Bound By Sound” in an attempt to define just what it is that these two odd individuals had in mind when they embarked on their way… excess is the only way to exist or does one just exist as accessory. The mind wobbles and sanity teeters. He doesn’t disappoint, our Dolly and neither do the many others who round out the rest of the proceedings. One of them, Revbjelde appears three times throughout the run of ‘The Delaware Road’ and with each submission he raises the psychological aspects of this game higher and higher.
Ian Helliwell does his gear proud and takes us back to the primordial days of synthesizers via the track “Water Gardens”. This one pulses and seethes under the constraints of it’s bandwidth like a malcontent jackal who just cannot tear itself away from the hunt. There is whimsy here also, The Dandelion Set and Loose Capacitor definitely see to that with their work retrieving us from the brink of nihilism in the most charming of ways. This entire release feels like several schools of experimentalism pulling in their own respective directions and perhaps that’s the point but if you’re not up for this then you’re really going to feel out of place here. ‘The Delaware Road’ is not laid out in any kind of chronology I can discern, it veers this way and that chewing up auditory scenery along the way as though it were out to reduce everything to the most primal state that it can.
I’ll also make mention that on the 14th of November there’s going to be a visual accompaniment to what is contained on this disc (or playlist if that is your fancy) and that I’m really bummed out to not be able to attend. This place I live wouldn’t consider something this deliciously subversive for an instant and believe me, there are some unsound voices cutting through the ether from beginning to end on ‘The Delaware Road’. Dolly Dolly is compere for the evening. Intrigued now?
Talk about doing due diligence, the respective authors of all these pieces have definitely done theirs to the fullest extent possible. I get foreboding atmospheres, cheeky jingles, aching melodies and even a smattering of child-like innocence. You’ll come away from what you’re hearing here and think the same thing I am: who the hell had the patience to arrange all these mavericks. The sheer logistics of it would have done me in during the early planning stages and yet here it stands, existing simply to let more occult arcana out into the collective unconsciousness of humanity.
Tongues of Fire appear towards the end with a series of loops that give us a feeling that everything is coming to an end for now but not to worry, there will be more. The arrangement this one chooses is part speakeasy brass and part old time radio station identifier; glorious remembrances of when everyone had one in their living rooms and didn’t even suspect how bizarre things could get in the span of a few seconds. Following this curtain call we are treated to a nice assemblage of vintage synths courtesy of Robin Lee who brings out the jazz influences seamlessly adding even more texture to this cunningly woven tapestry. I’m only scratching the surface here, giving ‘The Delaware Road’ very broad strokes because each person who hears this will not come away with the same impression.
This is masterful sonic manipulation cast against a series of imaginative compositions and one you’d be a fool to pass up. Why, just listen there, I can hear sanity snapping like cedar trees in a windstorm.