Landwerk No. 2
Nathan Salsburg is all things to any sort of guitar-listener, a fine accompanist, he makes beautiful folk records of his own, he’s involved in a new “supergroup” of sorts – and – in and around all of that he’s moved towards making ambient records with his Landwerk project. I say “Project” because this was a lockdown thing; finding the run off grooves of old 78s and then layering his own electric guitar in to the piece. It resulted in a very fine record called Landwerk and a few months on from that (arriving at the very end of 2020 in fact) we have Landwerk No. 2. Very much a continuation of sound and its pieces (four in total) are numbers. So here we have V, VI, VII and VIII to follow on from the first volume’s I-IV.
I loved the feel and flow of Landwerk, instantly. Four separate pieces – but they needed each other to make an impact; they felt like parts of a whole. That whole has been lengthened, furthered, with this second volume. Again it’s four new separate instrumentals but they flow on from one another and in the way Salsburg approaches the electric (from his er “day-job” of largely playing acoustic) I’m reminded of James Blackshaw. If fact it’s easy to hear this as Blackshaw remaking Basinski’s Disintegration Tapes.
Also, before Paul McLaney reclaimed the Gramsci name he made a series of purposely small albums under the name The Impending Adorations, they have a similar feel and flow to this – although there were vocals. But in and around the small little guitar motifs and bedsit electronica came the crackle and distant remainders of a sound first hollowed out long ago.
That’s when Salsburg is at his best here – when the hypnotic run-on grooves merge with a simple guitar lick (as on the opener, subtitled Throw A Crystal Unluminous) or on the record’s third track, or the series’ seventh (subtitled Coincident Constellation) where Salsburg’s own wee guitar lick seems to come out of what feels like a bit of backmasking – but is just a repeat-drone.
On this album’s finale, (All That Were Calculated Have Passed) we get a slightly west-African sounding lick and curl of guitar; it’s the closest motif to what you might hear in Salsburg’s “songwriter” albums – so his ambient and er, non-ambient music is starting to merge together nicely; that distinctive voice being heard regardless of the setting.
But really, this is the sort of gift we need in these times. An album to play on a loop – itself effectively a set of loops, or borne from such. An album to play a second time while you re-boil the jug. There aren’t many escapes offered where you can just sit out the window and contemplate a few moments passing. But Salsburg’s Landwerk project feels built for exactly that. I’m doing my best to embrace it. This music is subtly wondrous. It feels like the soundtrack is being built to a whole other world. In fact it’s two worlds coming together to forge a new one.