Darren Tate 'Small Worlds' CD
This is a re-issue of an edition of 70 copies on Darren's own Fungal label. Hand-made sleeve, each with a different small photo, signed.
Reviews In one of his most recent efforts, british drone alchemist darren tate, brings us a nocturnal mantra of subtle and absorbing minimalism. "small worlds", a CD-R from this year, starts with intensive repetiveness; an aquous and almost tender melody. as we advance on its death-course comes an urge for disconfort as the small beeps start to reclaim their own life. there´s a huge outer-spaced suffocation that settles and starts feeding on the inability to focus anywhere else than on these three long pieces. As it advances, our mental references tend to interfere with each other; they become more and more disconex, yet we´re still hooked on this warm, deadly embrace. This is the sound of all machines gone mad. The record constitues itself as a preamble of catastrophe. an anticipation of storm, with its huge wall of weight drowning the schizophrenic fingerpicking. repetition, again, dissipating over and over under the power of this ultra-downtuned blanket. There is still place for growth, although there isn´t space for evasion at all. the tiny echoes of voices floating away are still present in its weakness, as if there was at least a chance to communicate under this sea of low frequency. Hypnosis carries on its work. Manuel Pereira, Introspect Active in music and sonic experimentation since the mid-1980s, British drone-artist Darren Tate (not to be confused with the DJ/producer, also British) has under his belt a virtual legacy of minimal ambient excursions, as well as collaborations with such similar artists as Andrew Chalk, Ian Holloway and Paul Bradley. He also runs the Fungal label, an established promoter of these heady sonic spaces. Tate's latest release, "Small Worlds," is precisely as its title implies - windows seemingly opened in the air, cutting through the very substance of atmosphere and reality to offer fathomless views into realms both mystical and (ironically) minute. His meditative treatments and judicious contemplations of sonic ephemera and cyclic phrasings make the three distinct pieces on "Small Worlds" almost tangible in their sound-as-mass aesthetic. "Small Worlds 1" is the shortest composition of the release, and at a little over eight minutes has just enough time to introduce the percolating headspace Tate has mastered so well. Its melancholy, high-pitched tones cycle and fade in a pattern of substitution and renewal integral to minimalist technique. Here sounds are alternately rising and falling, faster and slower, lulling the conscious mind into unconscious stasis. Tense moments are enacted with a few dissonant thrusts later in the track, rupturing the lazy equilibrium and preparing the listener for the bone-shaking bass stutters that command "Small Worlds 2." Further tensions mount in this second piece, as unexpected guitar picks surface above the endless throbbing and are manipulated with infinitesimal care. The quieter plucking toward the end of the composition then seems almost nostalgic. "Small Worlds 3" is an epic, breathing microcosm - twenty minutes of pure machined hermeticism and astounding subtlety. A muffled pulsing rhythm, like a room-sized machine engine heard through any number of walls, forms the basis over which various modulations dance and crawl. The attentive ear will notice that this hypnotizing pulse undergoes several phases in pitch and tempo, and that a new, deeper and more densely constructed drone that enters the track at about the halfway point gradually falls in sync with the irresistible rhythmic cycling. Other elements includes faint traces of atmospheric violin, guitar sounding like a hinge in need of lubrication, hesitant string manipulations, and a resonating higher tone that hovers just out of reach of the droning roar. The organic quality of Tate's work is undeniable, and each of the "Small Worlds" without question dwells within the miniscule fluidity of vitality itself. Dutton Hauhart, Connexion Bizarre As we all know, Darren Tate is luckily rather prolific these days. “Small worlds” is one of his simplest releases to date, but stands among the overall most beautiful ones. Throughout 38 minutes divided into three tracks we’re subjected to a continuous sense of disquieting wait for the unknown, exalted by Tate’s choice of sonorities that alternate slowly swaying electronics, rumbles apparently from the centre of the earth, guitar strings caressed in languid anarchy (with only a few more visible spots where zings, plucks and light frictions appear) and, in the final and longest piece, the return of the mother drone. If you recall, Tate and Andrew Chalk, during their work together as Ora, were the first to explore these shores well before the mass of imitators that nowadays release shameless shallow copies of those masterpieces. Yet “Small worlds” is, again, something wholly different. Darren’s sound shows a porousness of sorts, the very reason for which - behind what might look like impenetrability - there is instead the access key to a universe where everyone looks the same, completely naked in front of acoustic phenomena that are right there, almost tangible, although still escaping from a meaning. Inevitably, one goes for the sheer description of what is perceived, but it’s all the more useless as Tate’s aural frames, just like his affecting artworks full of gnomes, leaves and - in this instance - tiny animals portrayed over magnificent surreal landscapes, contain a single element from every available process or technique, being mixed effortlessly by an alchemist whose place among the greats is secure since at least a decade. As always with the man from Yorkshire, this is a limited edition that, in this particular case, should be grabbed faster than usual. The music is that good. Massimo Ricci - Touching Extremes With artists like Paul Bradley, Andrew Chalk, Collin Potter, Andrew Liles and Jonathan Coleclough, the UK drone scene is among the most diverse and influential in the world. In direct comparison to these names, the work of Darren Tate has sometimes been slightly overlooked. Which might have to do with the fact that he was born with the same name as a hugely succesful house-DJ, leading to confusion and – most likely – frustration. Which is a shame, as his singular style, which doesn’t simply aim to please but searches for weird angles and twisted perspectives, deserves more attention. “Small Worlds” is yet another short electronic fairy tale from the brain of a man who thinks differently. As much as the CD carries his handwriting, however, one can not help but feel that his recent collaboration with Quiet World-founder Ian Holloway has rubbed off on this album. Holloway’s love for disturbing, suffocating atmospheres and the psychedelic touch of his music can certainly be traced back to “Small Worlds”. Other than that, there are three distinct characteristics which define all of the tracks contained here: Firstly, detuned guitars. Or, to be more precise, guitars which are being tuned in play, leading to bizarre slide effects, pitch bending sensations and the general notion that all borders are fluent. Secondly, opaque bass resonances inside clustered clouds, which form a distant hum. As such, this isn’t even a drone album pur sang. The sustained tones either serve as a basis for thematic expansions or melt into rhythmic patterns, but are never an end in themselves. Finally, the live element. Tate plays naive melodies on his organ, throws in an effect here and another there and the abruptness with which he introduces some of his material suggests all of this is happening in real time. This spontaneity lends “Small Worlds” an organic personality, despite the very much electronic nature of most of its sounds. In this cosmos of infinite possibilities, there are only open endings – there is no definite goal, no necessity to arrive at any given destination. Listening to the music unfold, develop and sometimes drift without external interference is what this album is about. Subsequently, you will find no trapdoors or multiple layers here, Tate operates with a strictly limited palette and with reduced means. And yet, while listening, I was pulled into the realms of his music more and more, the sequences developping a strong magnetism and a sharply outlined mood. While Paul Bradley aims for perfection, Andrew Chalk for purity and Liles for profundity, Darren Tate cares most about the effects of sizing the world down to a few clearly outlined parameters. Every string his finger hits, every change in the frequency of his tones suddenly takes on collossal proportions: In small worlds, small actions can have a huge impact. That is the philosphy of his work, which adds a spicy taste to the UK drone scene. Tobias Fischer, Tokafi The second release on Quiet World is much to my surprise a CDR by Darren Tate. Tate is a main player of things dark and drone since the mid eighties, working with Andrew Chalk and Colin Potter (with him as Monos) and solo. In 'Small Worlds' it seems to me that Tate is exploring one instruments per track. The first and third piece seem to be a synthesizer piece while the second is a guitar piece. No titles for these pieces. The first one is actually not as drone like as I would have expected. The synthesizer makes quite some high and low end which especially in the upper end of the sound spectrum is a bit mean. But it's a fine piece, nothing to do with noise or such. The guitar piece sees Tate strumming away, almost inaudible, but it's feeding through a large amount of sound effects, which makes it quite spooky. And spooky is a word that can also be applied to the final piece, which is a dark drone piece played on a synthesizer, with some tones rising out every now and then. It's great release, of quiet music, although not always the most new and innovative. Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly