Spanish musician Lee Yi has already appeared on this blog this year as half of Emilìa with the stunning “Down to the Sadness River”. This time ’round he is in is solo mode and again it has been released in small collectible copies (now sold out) on Rottenman Editions.
According to the label “An Instant for a Momentary Desolation describes a place devastated by the natural reactions of these days. Nature can be as cruel as beautiful; immense and tenacious! This album goes through a path of ambiguity, of how beauty can corrupt us by desecrating what we love. “Momentary Desolation”, “Desecration” & “Incertae” explain the feeling of despair with a heartbreaking corrosive sound, Lee draws dirty faces with lost looks without finding answers. “Vulnerable Petal” shows us the fragility of life , emptiness after the chaos and uncertainty of what will happen”.
While the Emilìa release was a brief but beautiful collection of miniatures, Yi’s solo release has only 4 tracks but the lengths vary from five and half minutes to just over sixteen minutes.
“Momentary Desolation” opens the albums with long melancholic with a hint of something menacing drones which are bathed ever so slightly in fuzz. Joining them in the sound scape are subtle glitches loops, long string drones that hang with a certain weight that turn a modern classical style in to piece. There is a feeling of decay, rubble and isolation which the elements bring together. The presumably violin drones give a difference to the long drones that hang about in there speed of playing. They drop out to let guitar drones enter the fray, which gives the track another color. With the drones being of the darker nature it is refreshing that the track is not claustrophobic.
“Desecration” starts of with layered vocal like ambience, rippling glitches, shimmering guitars and industrial-esque sounds. The rippling provides a rhythm of sorts with which the ghostly vocal presence can hover over alongside the snapshot of darker sounds that cascade on an out – some veering in the breakdown in transmission like sounds, some sounding like dark electronics. While the previous track felt dark ambient, this one is more electronic in nature and gives the album another feel as opposed to being drone centric.
“Incertae” (possibly referencing in taxonomy, the taxon where it’s broader taxa is unknown ie: the relationship between two things are unknown which fits in with the nature theme of this release). An electrical storm of sound starts building up, sounding in a way like Alan Lamb’s legendary power line recordings. A storm of such with long rumbling drones running parallel to pulsing throbbing noises and an over arching noise that takes over for a section. You get the feeling of wrestling with nature as Yi valiantly tries to hold onto control that is slipping out of his grasp as the music threatens to end in all out chaos. The track keeps incrementally building in sonics with the layers and noises fighting for position and while getting close doesn’t get to its Merzbow moment.
“Vulnerable Petal” as mentioned before is designed to show “the fragility of life , emptiness after the chaos and uncertainty of what will happen”. The track combines vocal lines alongside haze, distant shimmering guitars, softer drones, thudding minimally spaced beats with a lighter tone to the previous tracks. There is a certain cloudiness to the track caused by the haze which lends it the feeling of looking through a fog with not having the knowledge of what is around. The vocal drones and guitar provides the source of light while the beats and the sounds of detritus give it the edge of the tracks preceding it. The vocals, haze and guitar become the central focus with the other elements getting buried in the mix and there intensities fluctuate over time as the slowly unfurl to the end where it’s almost as the track has turned full circle.
Throughout the album Li has proven that he is not restricted to style. Put this next to the Emilìa release and they are quite different beasts. He has also proven that with an idea in mind it can be reflected through the music where the listener can follow the narrative. While not as immediate as the Emilìa album “An Instant for Momentary Desolation” has depth for repeated listenings with elements to reveal themselves to the listener.