Rob Lye – ‘Ink’

Posted by on November 1, 2017

lye ink

While Rob Lye is perhaps best known to some from his time spent with free-jazz and improv-folk outfit Le Drapeau Noir as well as experimental- and psych-folk explorers Chora, he’s recently stepped out with his own cache of dizzying and dazzling recordings under his own name. Released on his own Stairwell Editions imprint, Ink stands as the Lodon-based composer and musician debut solo effort, marking a considerable shift away from his established group dynamic and maturation in his own right. But more than that, Ink is a staggering debut from a relatively experienced artist, and one that truly begs for more to come.

Ink opens with “Wrist (i) and (ii),” an immersive, exploded view that sets the stage for Lye’s multi-faceted sound. The piece starts with a series of slow tones, field recordings, and barely-present textures, slowly calling to attention the blitz of clipped and strobing sound that follows. The initial cloud of calmed air soon dissipates as a quick stutter through the air. Absent of melody but still vibrant, the mid-section hovers in place for its extended stay before completely dropping out, leaving only a slow dance of chimes that phase from left to right. Although epic in the amount of ground it covers, the nearly 10-minute long opener is only the beginning of Lye’s versatile hand, segueing perfectly into the muted and low-key drama of “Leaning.” Sustaining a distant and drawn-out drawl of smeared piano keys, the track is a hypnotic and happily disorienting experience that seems to upend its own gravity, reverse time, and play with other elemental senses.

Elsewhere, as on “Nape” and “‘You’ve brought a curse to the table'” play with negative space. Although deploying similar arrangements and processes, Lye manages to tweak things just enough to reveal an entirely different side of himself. Here, he explores serene minimalism and the unhurried, humble glitches he collects on his palette. The album’s title track could even stand up to any Pop Ambient classic, or the masters of pretty glitch and loop music, like Jan Jelinek, Oval, or the heroes of Mille Plateaux.

Ink is available now directly via Stairwell Editions’ Bandcamp.