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Ragenap Thriving Culture
Chicago zoner ragenap, AKA Joel Berk, is a true disciple of minimalist maximalism, using his Bass IV, a couple of pedals, an amp and a handheld recorder to create cavernous tunnels of sound through which subtle melodies travel at the pace of glaciers. His debut tape for American Dreams Records, Thankrupcy, is a monolith of drone, a nearly fifty-minute-long guitar/delay howl only broken in half by the physical limitations of the cassette format.
The follow-up, Thriving Culture, could be considered baroque by comparison, featuring three pieces that play with texture and varying levels of sonic pressure. Side A features two meditations on a repetitive undulation of notes, the first of which summons drifts of distortion that build and break like banks of clouds. On the reprise, all excess is stripped back to allow the looped groove to fully alter the listener's consciousness. Side B is a shimmering, almost new age drone, but unlike the pillowy synths of new age music, the metallic edge of the electric guitar is ever present on the margins of the soundscape. The piece closes with an experiment in vibrato that shatters the glassy surface of sound.
On Thriving Culture, ragenap has further dialed in the humming tension between pressure, volume, texture and dynamics that characterize his brand of solo guitar music, music that is at once spaced out and tactile, expansive not only in every direction, but in every dimension.
- J Moss
released May 27, 2022
arts: "Thriving Culture" by Max Kauffman
mastering: Andrew Weathers