New York based artist Black Swan, who has built a reputation for his unique brand of tape-based symphonic drones, is back with a new album called Repetition Hymns which is out via Indianapolis based label Past Inside The Present. Mastered by Stephan Mathieu, It follows 2019’s The Sentimental Drift (Ethereal Symphony).
According to the press release, it is thus particularly well-suited to the temporal distortion of quarantine, in which each day feels like an endless repeating loop. Check the full streaming below and read the full story.
It is composed of layers of handmade tape loops of varying lengths and pitches manipulated on multiple multitrack recorders. There is a raw quality to this method that conveys a looseness, and a freedom, unlike any of Black Swan’s prior work. The repetition of a loop alters its perception, drawing attention to subtle textural modulation and events resulting from interaction with other loops, before moving onto the next micro-composition. The short track times discourage stasis while allowing for larger scales of interplay throughout the album as a whole. Versions echo throughout, creating cycles within cycles, as reprised motifs disorient the listener’s sense of time.
Sweeping sustained string crescendos can’t help but evoke cinematic metaphors, but any sense of narrative remains abstract. Like a sonic equivalent of the blurred and streaked canvases of Gerhardt Richter’s abstract paintings, Black Swan’s music isolates fine detail to be drawn out over time. Slowness becomes an act of resistance, obliging the listener to live fully in the present. Music is especially well-suited to exploring the malleability of time, and Repetition Hymns is slow music for slow times.