AMN Reviews: Gabie Strong – Wilding Sun (2021; Dragon’s Eye Recordings)

Wilding Sun consists of four pieces that combine studio and live guitar drones and loops with field recordings, processing, and effects. All checking in between 8 and 14 minutes, each is a sonic exploration of medicinal herbs, aptly titled Lavender, Catnip, Dandelion, and Mugwort. The result of this effort is too active to be truly ambient, but nonetheless has the feel of an outdoor sound installation.

Strong layers long-held notes and distorted chords with other sound sources. The tones are bright and often windswept, yet with more than a hint of disquiet. Her use of distortion varies from the subtle to overdriven walls of sound. There are frequently two to four distinct lines between her playing and the recorded material, providing a richness that unfolds at a deliberate pace. The field recordings include insect and animal noises, adding some fauna to the titular flora.

Having said that, Mugwort is something of an outlier. A lo-fi live recording, Strong plays entirely with amplified extended techniques to sculpt a staticky and feedback-laden soundscape.

Perhaps the most unusual and compelling aspect of this album is how Strong’s playing and composing provides both a peacefulness as well as non-stop quantum fluctuations. While the drones have a certain uniformity, at the micro level they are constantly reformulating themselves.

This is a thinking person’s music that stirs the listener at a deeper level. Wilding Sun will be released on November 12 by Dragon’s Eye Recordings.