It’s hard to listen to a disc like this and not feel a bit more glad to be alive. Not that P.D. Wilder’s “f/m” is anything like a joyous affair– if anything, Wilder’s in-credits declaration that these tracks were recorded following a winter visit to Fargo, ND make me wonder if the residents need some sort of outreach program. No, it’s more the sort of “glad to be alive” that comes with a brush with danger, creating a combination of mental fatigue and physical exhiliration.
Now, I’m not going to make any huge claims that drone albums with winter weather as an inspiration aren’t rather easy to come by. It’s not even particularly difficult to find ones done well. And while I can’t back it up, it has long been my belief that emulating the sounds of weather was one of the first aims of music– even in these modern times, weather can quickly find us unprepared, and our occasional brush with nature’s awesome power might help us empathize with the fears our ancestors surely experienced at similar events.
Did Wilder see something in Fargo that left a mark? Listening to “f/m,” I’d guess so. A scattering of short, bleak drones surround the album’s core, “Blizzard/Undefined;” the title itself suggesting as much a physical setting as an emotion. For nearly 30 minutes, Wilder churns out an evocative cloud of densely-layered drones and percussive sounds; the wavelike motion of a total whiteout pummeling a lone individual might be an an accurate description here.
After some time, a secondary effect sets in. I best experienced it walking about in my house, letting the various angles of hallways and rooms alter the sound somewhat, like trees in a forest. I opened the windows, and was surprised to see the sun. Although I was in no real danger, this was certainly a cousin to panic. That’s where these weather-and-drone albums really start to separate themselves– does it make you feel cold? Do you need to throw back the curtains and remind yourself of the season? Recommended.
P.D. Wilder’s “f/m” is available through Gears of Sand Recordings as release [gos40].
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