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Web of Light
(KVIST Records)

Joseph Raglani is what's normally called a "noise artist" — a tag normally reserved for people who dare to make music without steel strings and magnetic pick-ups. His music is built on pulses, static-bursts and undulating drones, all carefully piled on top of one another. Raglani, who has also worked under the moniker Ghost Ice, was recently signed to the respected label Kranky (home of Deerhunter and Stars of the Lid), and this vinyl-only release is a good, varied example of his abilities, despite containing only three tracks. Raglani composed the three pieces on Web of Light to correspond with a triptych of short films that are collected under the same name. In the press materials accompanying the record, Raglani calls the film "lost in space" and suggests that audiences may never see the final cut; as such, Web of Light doesn't operate as a soundtrack so much as an aural stand-in for the film.

The first track, "The Last Ride," takes up the entire first side of the record, beginning softly with a chiming melodic passage that continues as synths and filters modulate into oblivion. The final movement pushes the noise and static to the front, and it sounds like being caught in a jet engine during takeoff. Where side A begins in silence and builds to a steady, heady swirl, side B's "Bardophasing" wastes no time in releasing low-end growls and white-noise bursts. Deep, earthy tones are peppered with astro bleeps and space-age explosions while a two-note drone holds dominion in the distance. Somehow, even the jarring, harsh bits become soothing after a few minutes. The final track, "Impossible Love" begins with a loop of a junky folk guitar figure and holds the hypnotic, circular pattern for the duration of the song. While we may never see the images that inspired these tracks, Raglani's compositions suggest a rich, detailed world all by themselves.

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September 23, 2020

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