Caught in The Wake Forever – Under Blankets
Anything from Daniel Crossley’s label(s) will get my attention, but I was already familiar with Caught in The Wake Forever (aka Fraser on Facebook in my house). We both live in Scotland but I’ve not met him yet. There was a brief spell when we both shared the same label (Hibernate) back in the not too distant day. But this one is about the nights.
I’m four years from fifty and I’ve been around the block with drones, white noise, pink noise, brown noise, field recordings, beats and beatless searches for a shortcut to the relaxation response. I like to think Under Blankets ‘works’ as sleep music. To call it a 40 minute drone is stating the obvious – but if there’s one thing that this piece reveals it’s that there’s always more going on in a dronework than you might credit. And this is quite a nice bit of very subtle composition, nicely mastered too – so it works very well as a detailed headphone piece and sounds great on my mongrel of a hifi.
I struggle with health and I am on the constant look out for a drone that a) has a bit of efficacy in searching for this response and b) is interesting, but not *too* involved to keep me awake.
I’m not saying you have to use this record for sleep. I’ve done other things with it. I’ve lit a wood burner in the living room to it. I’ve cuddled my wife to it. It’s probably been playing when one of the kids gets up at three o clock for a pee or a cough.
You’ll have heard the stream, but I’ve heard it about fifty times now on the nice glass mastered CD and the 320 mp3. It is currently my go-to sleep music. I’ve had it playing on headphones as I’ve filled a hot water bottle, waiting for the kettle to boil and checking the locks on the doors.
I thought it would be interesting to pick it apart a little as I’ve been using it ‘medically’ so to speak.
The first eight minutes have a medium-thick cluster of sustained chords before they give way and part clouds a little and begin to ripple. This gentle top end is pulsing slowly over a busier ensemble of papery strings and distant orchestrations that never deviate from the pretty focused ebbing arrangement.
Twelve minutes in and we are settling down somewhat, to reveal an undercurrent that seems like it’s always been in there. The stringy elements appear to be clearer and you can hear a kind of slowly-modulated cluster of soft looping activity that can give a drone piece a bit of character and yet still be an effective meditative piece.
There’s a wee bit of white noise creeping in here as the strings vacate, and there’s a nice bit of spatial mixing which is quite subtle, but there’s a lot to be said for this ear massage which leaves one lughole and enters the other as we head for the halfway mark. And it’s in no way an offence to say that this CD would work on that front too. Hell, it takes me a lot to relax. Anyway, it’s hard to say what this white noise is – a distant stream? soft radio hiss? – but it doesn’t matter as a rippling pulse swells in like a slowly incoming tide.
Like weather, we have a few more swells and gaps and it’s a piece about being sustained rather than any overt ‘development’, with each component in the work making an appearance and dissolving – as you notice the things that were always in the mix. It’s got a really nice exit strategy as the work closes over a good two or three minutes.
I won’t talk about the package – even though I bought the sumptuous version of it from Fraser’s own stash, because at the time of writing there was only one of them left!