Jeff Burch, ‘S/T’

Posted by on July 26, 2017


The Spring Press, 3.3.2017

Jeff Burch founded his Spring Press imprint while living in Sydney, Australia. The label has been a way for the American-born and New Zealand-raised artist-musician to share and showcase the work produced by others that he has had the privilege to come into contact with.  Underground musical personalities such as Michael Morley and Bruce Russell of Dead C, New York-based psychonauts Psychic Ills, and British genre-bender Richard Youngs have all released limited vinyl or lathe editions via Spring Press, which have appeared alongside prints and photographic collections produced by artists and photographers from all across the globe. Relocating back to the United States and landing in New York City, Burch chose to continue the label from his new base of operations, ultimately releasing his second self-titled LP, the follow-up to an immense 2015 album for Important Records, on his own Spring Press banner.

Whereas Burch’s solo debut contained a pair of sprawling compositions, this LP finds four distinct movements spread across the two sides of vinyl, each piece offering a unique nod to drone mavens past and present. “Empire Electric One” enters with a wavering synth note, quickly pitted against a drawn out cello drone and shivering clusters of tiny bells. A pulse eventually forms, balanced by a soaring violin note that enters and leaves, swelling and receding like an ocean’s waves. The pulse deepens, quickens and becomes a sinister echo of itself before the entire dizzying array of sound ultimately drops out, replaced by an organ and synthesizer vortex.

Interestingly, this LP was composed and recorded in a number of locales: Burch’s NYC home, an artist residency in Stockholm, Morocco, and Italy. “A Figure for Venice” is a short homage to the Italian floating city, its repeated cymbal strikes, sporadic chimes and phantasmal synth drones evoking an aqueous environment rife with labyrinthine networks of canal-like passages. Heading southwest from Venice — crossing the Tyrrhenian and Alboran Seas — one stumbles across Mount Zerhoun in Morocco, at the base of which lies the holy Muslim city of Moulay Idriss, from which “A Figure for Moulay Idriss” takes its name. The lengthiest track on offer, this piece is a ghostly amalgam of clangorous cymbals and bells that unfurls with a measured cadence.

Peppered with a barrage of hand drum slaps, “Empire Electric Two” builds upon the epic drone feast offered by the opening track and encapsulates that piece’s woozy miasma inside a loosely structured shell that is tremendously joyful. This culminating presence is what ultimately demonstrates the compositional artistry hefted from within Burch’s being and places him on the drone altar not that far away from luminaries such as Tony Conrad, John Cale and La Monte Young.