Tabs Out | Proud/Father – Symbolic Exchange and Emptiness

Proud/Father – Symbolic Exchange and Emptiness

2.14.19 by Tony Lien

Simply put, there’s a staggering amount of ambient/soundscape/drone albums out there — and an unfortunate number of them just aren’t worth listening to. It’s a genre that can easily be exploited by the lazy or the uninspired — due to both the ease at which the music can be made and the generally low cost involved in its production. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again now. I’ll probably even say it a couple more times in the not too distant future.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss what makes the good ambient/soundscape/drone albums worth our time — as listeners.

When it comes to this (sometimes challenging) genre, I feel that a story (or at the very least, a theme) is essential to the creation of a compelling album. What would Brian Eno’s “Ambient 1: Music For Airports” be without the inherent imagery of stagnant terminals, buzzing fluorescent lights and weary travelers’ faces? Just this little bit of extra effort — outside of the music itself — can do wonders for album’s overall effectiveness and emotional impact.

This all comes to mind for me when experiencing “Symbolic Exchange and Emptiness by Proud/Father — most definitely one of the good ones.

The tape’s liner notes read: “The first side is a reflection of isolation, both physical and emotional, from depression and similar mental health disorders… The second side is an exploration of the fading Boricua culture and the history of Puerto Rican independence movements.”

Just those few sentences alone tell a story that traces and illuminates the contours of the tape’s surprising amount of sounds and textures that whisper gently through the warbles and hiss. Soft wind that blows through open windows at night. Lonely lullabies. The endless vibrations of nearby urban traffic. Uneasy dreams. A colorless world that plays on like an old silent movie. Voices drowned and unintelligible — lost to ignorance, apathy, or clueless governmental administrations.

It does you a minimal amount of good merely reading a brief description of such a towering, beautiful album.  As of writing this, there are still five copies of “Symbolic Exchange and Emptiness” left via the always thoughtful Orb Tapes (out of central Pennsylvania). Give them your money and allow Proud/Father to tell you a story.

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