David Wells – Rojo

David Wells – Rojo

CD-R, Siridisc, 2010
www.siridisc.co.uk

“Rojo”, by Scottish ‘drone-ologist’ David Wells, has apparently a few incarnations. The version reviewed here is a two-track limited release of 50 copies presented in a textured art paper sleeve, each autographed by the artist. Eager drone enthusiasts can download a slightly different “Rojo” packaged with a third, bonus track. With this, Wells contributes another installment to the robust ambient drone scene coming out of England and Scotland; among his peers are such other notable minimalists as Paul Bradley, Ian Holloway (Itto), Colin Potter and Darren Tate (Ora).
The compositions on “Rojo” are titled “One” and “Two”, each with a run time of around twenty minutes. However much this sounds like a guitar-based drone release, happily tweaked and ultra-stretched into monophonic infinitude, the following quote from Wells, found on the Siridisc website, is telling: ‘Under normal circumstances I would say nothing but due to the volume of emails and comments I can say that there are no guitars or synths on “Rojo”.’
So, just how were the thick waves of woolly aural tranquility on “One” constructed? And what about the prolonged tones of “Two”, shifting ever so subtly, at once mesmerizing and solemn. Finding little concrete information regarding material, we must assume recorded analog or field sources, shaped, deformed and manipulated into fantastic, void-gazing drones. While “One” concentrates on assembling an epoch of slow waves, rising and falling in soothing, purring mimicry of planetary tides in fast forward, “Two” works by degrees toward a hypothetical crescendo, with layers gaining piecemeal intensity as the steady tones slip with tectonic care over and under one another.
“Rojo” plays to expectations, its primary aspects in line with other drone work – circular motifs, rich textures and infinitesimal evolutions. The quality and craftsmanship here are undeniable, and listening is a serene and (for some) intuitive experience, but while Wells tugs gently at the fabric of the world it feels as if he fears unraveling it entirely. The reward for all this determination, this splendid mix of depth and resonant texture, is candid and simple: quality ambient drone. “Rojo” is a model for a genre that finds itself refined to a point where there is little left to discover, but immeasurable time to savor what has been done.

[7/10]

— Dutton Hauhart