Rob Collier – Driftwood (and Other Found Objects)

5.4.22 by Matty McPherson

(What feels like) An endless array of Casio CZ-1 Phase Distortion Synthesizers greet you when you open the Jcard to Rob Collier’s Driftwood (and Other Found Objects) cassette. Collier has carried this particular batch of ambient synthesizer pieces in his back pocket for over five years. He’s just been patient about issuing it until February of this year for the sly Noumenal Loom label. It does not come without reason. On his last release, Moving Backwards for Geology Records, Collier alluded to being inspired by how the perception of time in nature differs from the human world. The piano tunes for that release practically existed out of that latter world, their stillness evolving drastically yet subtly over their runtimes. Driftwood (and Other Found Objects), holds that same natural harmony, acting as an unexpected time-traveling companion that enshrines his ethos.

To an extent, Collier’s work on the Casio reminds me of Arovane’s Wirkung from Puremagentik Tapes –itself a release that purposely evoked naturalism as an MO for its sonic palette. The comparison would not go much farther than that though, as Collier is deeply locked into how the Casio CZ-1 can convey otherworldly, calming drone fuzz as much as sugary minimalism. Tracks like Driftwood or the Shimmer of the Lamps Above lean into the latter, letting small notes dance and flicker off of synth ambience; there is an underlying baroque quality to these compositions that feels out of a contemporary time or place. If anything, it evokes the deceptive levels of deep listening burrowed within Windham Hill’s pleasant piano melodies.

As such, when Collier goes head-on into ambient, it is enrapturing. “Everything Repeats Itself” and closing tack “The Stairs Lead Upwards” are quite alluring in that regard. Their minimal sound palette may not impress immediately, that is until it practically floods the room (on an ambient sound system of course). It’s at these moments that Collier’s belief in how these sounds he’s wrangled together “feel beyond us” comes into focus. Everything around sounds of an astral opera, wading through assuredly and steadily, completely out of the human conception of time, even beyond the natural order itself.

Edition of 75 Available from the Noumenal Loom Bandcamp.