Lee Yi – An Instant For A Momentary Desolation.

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.

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Emilìa – Down to the Sadness River.

Recieving an email from Rotten Man I opened expecting to have been sent some sort of Noise release. I had not heard of Spanish imprint and purveyor of art,  Rottenman Editions until now and was pleasantly surprised by this too brief release. Emilía is the duo of Lee Yi and Meneh Peh (aka Vanesa Jimenez) who both previously recorded under the Niñocometa moniker (releasing the “Tukae” back in 2012).

Yi and Peh construct the album using only bowed guitar and piano to stunning effect. Recently I have been listening to music composed with lots of different elements and instruments, so it is quite a refreshing change to listen to something constructed with such few instruments that is so rich in sound.

“Emilìa and the Unknown Kid” starts off with layered droning bowed guitar that has different depths and textures to it with one having a more melodic drone tone with the other gives a darker tone. A third bass drone cuts through the two as the three of them wind around each other to form an orchestral section that is reminiscent of a string section.

“Emilìa” fuses affected muted piano with loops, clicks and sounds that oscillate out and glitch. There is a submerged feel with the track having a murky feel to it. The track starts with a jolt as if a stylus has been placed mid track and the record player started. It would be interesting if this track was longer and maybe flowed into a more conventional modern classical track.

“Down to the Sadness River” is such a brief track, just 66 seconds long, but the bowed guitar sounds like one of the intro/outros that My Bloody Valentine used on the “Loveless” lp. It has a combination of drones with the guitar cutting across, but also a pleasant melody.

“The Sewing Room” starts with a single siren – like drone and then features multi layered drones that fuse together to create this string section that sound like they are accompanying a suspenseful silent film. The drones dissipate to leave a pair that cross over each other in arching fashion.

“Strange Light” melancholic with a sense of foreboding as the bowed guitars create both traditional drones and sounds like a violin section that is making music for mourning.

“Solemn Silence” is the shortest piece at 34 seconds, but is the most cinematic with the music giving a visual sense of someone who is driving away, at night in the rain from something that has caused them alto of despair.

“Fish Market” sounds more like a traditional guitar track with the scraping sound while it is being bowed. A high reaching , apocalyptic sounding drone underlays it which in a way counters the mood of the guitar, which comes across as having a sense of quiet acceptance and understanding.

“One of his little shoes” makes you question the sound source. Surely this just can’t be only bowed guitar and made by two people. The piece is multi layered with both light and shade and while only 56 seconds long shows both Yi’s and Peh’s ability to construct such beautiful vignettes.

“Oil Bread” features muted piano that has a light, soft feel to it with delicate tones that seem to be contained as if they were trapped in a bubble. It’s almost like they are held back from being long notes. They are just so delicate, non-over powering and it gives the track another dimension than being a stock standard Modern Classical track.

“Close” year another short track that starts with frantic bowed guitar that are underscored by a bass – like sound,while notes sweep with melody above it. Another all too brief track ( 57 seconds long) as just when it when it appears to venture into new territory fades out.

The use of the color blue for the artwork gives an indication to the mournful quality of the music. While I am aware of some sort of back story to the album by the titles of the tracks and as I wasn’t given a press release, I would hasten to have a guess at the overall theme and/or inspiration. All I can day is that these 10 beautiful pieces are over too briefly and the album leaves you wanting more.

This highly recommended release comes in a limited edition of 20 handmade copies with cyanotype on canvas and small numbered artwork/prints (see below).