Vague Traces (62'13") is a fitting title for the collaboration between Phillip Wilkerson & Chris Russell - because that is all that remains following its airing. Playing at the border of New Age, Avant-Garde and Spacemusic, Vague Traces concentrates on tone color, texture, dynamics, density and their transformations. We can only guess at the beautiful reality to which this duo refers. Their synthesized sounds form coherent groupings of sonic signs. Though quite mysterious to us, these clusters express meaning in the sum total of their parts. Delivered in a linear fashion, the message remains enigmatic. Tapping unexpected neural pathways, our interior world alternately tightens and relaxes. The glimmerings, shadows, caresses, murmurs and sudden gravity contained in these simultaneously sounding notes moves from a velvety luminous quality, to (however briefly) near dissonance. Wilkerson & Russell find that colliding chords can coexist in their music, as will timbres rough rather than lush. In arrangements of slow moving electronic forms and rightly crafted, luxurious modulations, harmonic movement freezes on static sonorities. Slowly played piano keys are superimposed over sustaining electric organ tones, as drones deepen amidst faint plucks. Reverberant rattles and breathing synthesizers reinforce an air of turbulence. This work seems to be dissolving and becoming, all at once. Sounds and ideas cross a huge interval, as the seven realizations on Vague Traces move through their liminal realms. This duo produces a fascinating succession of colors, atmosphere and mood.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 26 February 2015