11.30.21 by Matty McPherson
Important Records is finally making more pro-tape considerations regarding the viability of releasing tape editions of albums on their main front. It’s been a welcome boon for any burgeoning Pauline Oliveros disciple, although it shouldn’t detract from keeping one’s eye on the prize, the label’s tape-curated Cassauna imprint. Rose Bolton recently passed through with The Lost Clock, a 4-song release clocking in around 36 minutes. The Toronto-based composer’s work over two decades has found her working with between Owen Pallet to Jerusalem in My Heart, in a space occupied between 8-speaker drone installations worthy of an odyssey, alongside austere, pointed orchestrations and soundtracks. This release naturally continues to expand on the welcoming crevices that kind of range brings to the table. It is a craft piece of punctilious ambient drones that impart ample imagery.
Both sides A and B open with conciser tracks (Unsettled Souls and Starless Night, respectively) that serve as primers for their respective longform pairings. Bolton’s work has been called impressionistic, which Unsettled Souls quite splendidly confirms. Clattering about, the track features crystalline cymbals that paint echoey chasms as much as desert skies; paired with the synthesizer drone, you can almost sense a fast moving plane overhead. A tidy teaser for the title track. Submerged drum beats ping like radar flashes–something lurches. It’s a precise pairing with synthesizer drones worthy of a low-flying panic attack–low flying because Bolton allows the piece to extend naturally, taking a slow simmer that suddenly has hit boiling. Yet, there’s an adherence to letting the subtleness stretch–it never quite feels like it may go over the edge.
Starless Night picks up side B, with a percussive that sounds as much as rainy patterning as a rube goldberg in its terminal phase. It cuts out and cuts back in, creating a snipping pattern that I often jumped slightly between the back frequencies of a speaker. Center stage is still a darkened omnibus droney bass. The Heaven Mirror meanwhile, closes the show up with the most impactful, brooding amalgamation, The piano keys and swooning pan effect stumble forward. Underneath it all? Why it’s Bolton’s stalwart droning synth. Acting as a wearisome springboard, it brings out hallowed strings that truly evoke the unsettled souls of above.
The album’s evocative sulking has become a welcome reprieve from the industrial malice and ambient drifts that I’ve found myself stuck in. Bolton’s The Lost Clock is eerie in a masterful sense. It decisively documents the small peaks and valleys of panic before letting it fizzle out, unsolved yet still deeply disquieting. Sometimes, that’s the most devious type of horror.