Review: The Thomas Family – Dub Variations

cover_reviewVariations and three of them can be found on this really interesting piece of music. Variations and several long compostions appear on this album. Three variations appear on this album and might grab the attention of the listener for a considerable amount of time.

A strange release that much is certain. Or maybe strange is the wrong word or would need some kind of explanation. Dub Variations, as the name suggests it, presents the music not in the ordinary way but with facets that do not always follow an anticipated pattern. Alterations of ideas, rearrangements of the concepts and an overall unpredictability can be found on this tape release. No, those three tracks are not short. In fact, they go on for quite a while and demand a considerable amount of attention as well as patience from the listener. Those variations want to be understood and tracks of 14+ minutes wants to be consumed. Music for the brain, music for those who happen to have a masochistic tendency and who would go to considerable lengths in order to examine even the tiniest bit of a piece of music. I did such an attempt once for Sabazius’ “The Descent of Man”, but in this case I refrain from doing so. Therefore, just some basic facets …

The setting is as follows: minimal drone textures, occasionally rhythmic beats, samples of birds – budgies maybe – and noise elements. These are the elements used by the band and varied accordingly. By skipping through those three long tracks one recognizes several aspects:

* the music evolves over time
* one track lead over to another
* the music become more intense with each track
* there is no such thing as an infinity loop (even though one might extect one)

This all is somewhat important when it comes to this release, but words fall a bit short in actually describing it. Music wants to be, needs to be experienced. Those vague references and glimpses demand some amount of effort and attention, because otherwise the music simply passes by and might be reduced to the drone textures. This is especially true once music is placed into a broader context and interpreted in one way or another.

While there is ambience – i.e. fragments of sounds that can be found in a city – they are reduced to a role in the background and unable to reach out to the listener. It feels as if someone would be shut in a building, engulfed in a stream of sterile sounds, while the outer world is experienced – through vague noises and impression – through some sort of window. Other possible interpretations can be brought up as well and without much of an effort. Yet it remains to be seen whether this is actually a good thing or not. Ignoring this train of thought for a moment, those birds chirping in the third track, while in the background repetitive rhythms set the stage, gives the impression of a ritual held by an avian species, whose actual meaning and intention remains hidden and incomprehensible. Drone and ambience are the key elements of those tracks, while additional elements are allowed to appear now and then. Somehow it appears as a juxtaposition of steadiness and shiftiness.

A lot can be read from those tracks. A lot can be gained from these compositions. Listen to them. Let you mind wander. Suck it in. Work it out in your mind. Re-arrange it, contemplate about it, be confused by it.



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