Earlier recordings by Canadian producer Kyle Bobby Dunn (now based in Brooklyn) have been austere and rather cold; very beautiful at times, but not overtly seductive. His latest Ways of Meaning for new label Desire Path Recordings is therefore quite a surprise, a ceaselessly, shamelessly gorgeous collection of pillowy ambient music closely reminiscent of certain fragments of Brian Eno’s Apollo Soundtracks. Like Dunn’s previous work, there’s more to these pieces than pure aesthetics, as evidenced by the persistent tone of sadness, weighing them down with sheets of tears. Seduction can be seen as an approachable way to explore the endless march of time, the decay of memory, and the pain of loss.
In mood and approach Ways recalls The Caretaker, stripped of discernible trace elements and left as ghostly instrumental fragments. These Dunn builds from guitar and organ, processed into wispy threads, resonant with echo and delay. In ‘Dropping Sandwiches in Chester Lake’ short, mournful patterns eddy out, like ripples, before fading to nothingness. ‘Canyon Meadows’ calls forth faint horn and chime tones, passing spectrally through a dense bass presence. With ‘Movement For The Completely Fucked’ Dunn further confuses our perception of time, stretching passages until they fray over an extended duration, the tangible rendered gaseous.
The final ‘Touhy’s Theme’ brings Dunn full circle, to the amorphous drones of A Young Person’s Guide, the same astral chords now filled with helium, airy to the point of weightlessness. Sorrow has become resignation, melodic development further jettisoned, drifting aimlessly like the shadowy formlessness of ‘Grab (And Its Lost Legacies)Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ and ‘Last Minute Jest’. Ways of Meaning is a impressive statement, a moving exploration of sound and memory and the complex ways in which these worlds interact.