artist: Darren Tate
release: Small Worlds
year of release: 2007
label: Quiet World
detailed info: discogs.com
The second release on Welsh drone/ambient label Quiet World is this one: Small Worlds by one of England’s most experienced drone artists, Darren Tate (also of Ora and Monos). It seems the collaboration between him and Quiet World owner Ian Holloway was so pleasant that the latter decided to release one of Tate’s albums as well. Another good turn of events for the label, because although Small Worlds is again a record only for obscure ambient connoisseurs, it definitely fits the label.
I haven’t heard any of Tate’s other works yet, but on this one, he presents an approach to ambient that is minimalistic and estranging, yet betrays a subtle touch of someone who knows what he’s doing. The first of the three untitled tracks, the shortest one, is based on some spacey floating melodies, with added drones, little touches, and effects. The second track is a bit heavier, with a thick distorted drone in the background, which is joined later by faint electric guitar sounds: random notes, delay, tuning and detuning. The final track, which takes up over half of the album’s duration, starts off with a fluctuating drone, occasional bits of organ, and more guitar sounds. These elements all go through a gradual development, which especially the drone increasing in intensity.
As befits the title of the album, Tate conjures up little worlds of his own, each with a distinct sound and mood. Literally otherworldly. I think the album should be interesting for lovers of deep drones, calm and quiet listening sessions, and the like. But, like many of the releases from the people around Quiet World, this isn’t for casual listeners an account of its being very minimalistic. Similarly, the release doesn’t transcend its genre boundaries: it’s a quality drone album for insiders, plain and simple.
Reviewed by O.S.