Golden Retriever – Occupied With the Unspoken (Thrill Jockey)


Humbly equipped with just a bass clarinet and an analog modular synth, Jonathan Sielaff (Au) and Matt Carlson (Parenthetical Girls) carve out mutating, boldly layered drones as Golden Retriever. The four pieces here are quite similar in length – around nine minutes each – and have been condensed from their typical half-hour running time live. Bending the one-note limitations of their instruments into a dynamic harmonising, the duo achieve a saturated compositional marvel.

First is “Serene Velocity’, with many shifting elements played off each other as a particularly molten tone burns most brightly. It keeps its repetitive backbone throughout the surface mutations, although the tempos get trickier halfway through and from there everything grows less dense and more porous. More mellow by half, “Canopy’ borders on ambient even as it retains those signature textural currents. In fact, its melodies eventually slot into a splendid call-and-response exchange. “Eudaimonia’ starts out noisy and gnashing, feeling steadily creepier and more spacious, while “Winter Light’s is more open still, albeit with a familiar wonkiness.

The initial impact diminishes somewhat over the four tracks, as the duo’ method becomes better known to us. But it’s an engrossing record still, its sundry moving parts switching back and forth from independent to co-dependent. This is psych without a guitar in sight, alternately belly-warming, face-melting and mind-expanding. It’s cosmic, man.

Doug Wallen


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