Taking tunes up the cloud, innovative American axeman lets the texture do the talking.
Ambience is Jon Durant’s natural habitat, be it in a solo mode or on joint efforts such as BURNT BELIEF whose "Emergent" can be seen as an immediate precursor to this album – although there also was 2018’s “Parting Is” that garnered many an accolade. Unlike those records, “Alternate Landscapes” finds the Bostonian following Allan Holdsworth’s lead in alchemically transmogrifying regular playing into something unrecognizable and synthesizing new aural images from standard particles. If Durant’s “cloud guitar” formula previously served as a soundscape cradle for melodic pieces, it’s the heart of the matter here – brought to the fore, on the four expansive pieces that, for all their impressionistic airiness, pack a sensual punch.
While the wondrous 20 minutes of “Ciel du Cheval” – the only non-geographically titled track on offer, laid down live, sans overdubs – have Jon’s method writ large over deceptive dynamic nebulae, where folk-inspired filigree vibes echo through fogged-up valleys and strange notes rear their heads, the effects-laden “Systravatn” will slowly float into view before revealing the vast solemn scope of low frequencies which are stricken with incidental urban sonics and reverberating strings to crawl into the listener’s soul and pour ice-cold unquiet delight into one’s psyche. Least abstract of all, “Aragon” may bear a pulse-like beat as a suspended groove that should feed the cut’s fluid, meowing harmonies, but it’s “Dinkelsbühl” that pays the most overt homage to Edgar Froese and other electronic pioneers with a palpable, yet delicate, tune and delivers a final immersion.
Impossible to shake off, this record’s aftertaste is bound to warrant repeated returns to its weird world.