Small Life Form - "One"
(Silber Records 2003, silber030)

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: January 2004

Small Life Form is a solo project from Silber Records head honcho Brian John Mitchell. I've reviewed a couple of Brian's tapes of sonic assault guitar drones released under his guise as Remora, but Small Life Form - though similar to Remora in terms of sound exploration and its effect on the senses - is a different beast in its execution and resulting perceptions by the listener (at least me anyway). Rather than guitar, the instruments used on the album are melodica, trumpet, trombone, voice, chinese cymbal, floor tom, vera pulsar (via radio telescope) and electric wind organ.

There are 7 tracks on the CD, though the liner notes point out that they were designed to be listened to simultaneously while looped. I listened straight through and found this standard method to be a sufficiently mesmerizing experience. This is stuff that screams out for extended development so it came as no surprise that the longer tracks were the most satisfying. "Small" is a highlight that consists of slowly pulsating drones and OM-like chants that have a didgeridoo sensation. It's hard to describe and must be experienced, but the combination of pulsations and winding chants is hypnotic and the 10 minutes of this track went by like 2.

"Horns" has an effect that's somewhere between a machine shop and avant-garde symphony orchestra. And while the horns are detectable as such, they are presented in unconventional ways. Once again it's the pulsations settling into the brain that facilitated my focus on the piece. Mitchell does an impressive job of incorporating high volume and aggression... but in such a way that the volume isn't too high and the aggression relatively sedate... the result being not necessarily meditative but certainly something I was able to focus my mantra on.

"Organ" broke my concentration. It's not high volume but is certainly high pitched and I had to turn the volume down on this one. But the attraction of the piece is the melody which is so simple and develops oh so slowly, yet finds notes and tones that produced a similar effect on my senses as "Small" did. I would also give credit to the mix, which has the music strategically weaving it's way from left to right to left and swirling around in the center, and. "Melodica" is similar in its use of melody. Very nice. Recommended to patient and attentive listeners who enjoy putting on the headphones and surrendering themselves to pure sound.

For more information you can visit the Silber Records web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Silber Records; PO Box 18062; Raleigh, NC 27619.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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