Before you endeavor to read this review of Swaying Smoke’s From Ruin to Bliss (PublicSpaces Lab), know this: even though I write reviews of PSL, I’m not part of the crew. I’m just a suburban guy writing netlabel reviews who happened to be invited to post my thoughts in PublicSpaces Lab’s Editor’s Corner.
From Ruin to Bliss is a big album. Big in length, big in sound and big in ideas. This hour long work continues James Lowery’s (aka Swaying Smoke) quite impressive catalog of ambient drones and experimentation. As a fan of drone music, I was quite impressed by the variety of soundscapes that Lowery has envisioned — each dramatically different from the other. For instance the first track, “Pincers” (mp3), is most definitely dronish, but nestled deep between the drones are the expressive sounds, the stuff that makes drone music interesting. But then, if you listen to my favorite track, “Things are Getting Strange” (mp3), Lowery subtly pushes his drones away from drones and into ambient/electronica. If you understood that last sentence, then you, like myself, have been listening to way too much ambient/drone music. But no, if you haven’t downloaded From Ruin to Bliss (or the rest of Lowery’s cataglog) then you haven’t been listening enough.