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Shortwave Nights

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Album Review

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. Candid recordings like "Drake Motel/9 Gold Cadillacs," where we hear an old man lament "my daddy spent millions of dollars in 1977 trying to buy a friend and he died without one," create pathos, connecting the listener to the work by appealing to their humanity rather than their intellect. On "Ahhh-weee Dictaphone," a tape recording is manipulated again and again, shifting from a harsh crackle to a kind of sing-songy hum before giving way to the soothing drone of "Test Recording at Trembling City." In a way, moments like this feel like a peek behind the curtain, and while it's ostensibly just 40 seconds of someone fussing with a tape recorder, it shows that, in an age of overly processed music, the sounds you're hearing have been assembled with care by two people. While Shortwave Nights might not be for everyone, Hiss Tracts have made an album of experimental music that feels like it was made to engage rather than alienate, casting aside inscrutability to create something surprisingly fragile and soulful.

Biography

Formed: 2008

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A collaboration between Godspeed You! Black Emperor's David Bryant and Growing member and Total Life mastermind Kevin Doria, Hiss Tracts finds the pair teaming up to create experimental soundscapes. Initially meeting in 2004, the pair collaborated on various projects before finally cementing Hiss Tracts in 2008. Touching on elements of drone, field recordings, and ambient, the pair weave together sounds from the world around them to create their lush sonic tapestries. Assembling material from...
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Shortwave Nights, Hiss Tracts
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