Through 39 simple miniatures, Asher questions our idea of time, specifically the concept that perception of time is linked to the memory of place. It’s fertile intellectual territory for scientists and philosophers alike, so I suppose it’s not unlikely that these sorts of questions would pop up in “Intervals,” the fourth release of NYC-based label The Land Of.
Admittedly, the extensive liner notes give a lot away. Getting to the actual disc requires going through an outer envelope printed with the first portion of the notes, and into a second sleeve printed with the remainder. In the notes, one is not made aware of Asher’s personal theories of time perception; but also that the listener is “an essential part of the artistic endeavor;” by virtue of Asher’s encouragement to listen to the various field recordings, lo-fi piano musings, and insect calls in any order we choose.Unfortunately, Asher forgets that these are his places, and his sound memories. The brevity of the individual tracks (the longest, by far, is only 2 minutes) works against the listener– where a well-made field recording can impart some feeling of “visiting” a locale, it is usually due to the illusion of immersion– whereas Asher seems content with a baptismal dunking in lieu of scuba gear. At best, listeners can use their actual place as a substitution. But then the question becomes: “why use these sounds?”
Without more ability to build a personal connection to the material, I don’t feel as apt to explore the album in the manner Asher suggests. The sad thing is that without all the direction, I’d have probably enjoyed this disc a lot more, and quite possibly gotten very close to the experience Asher is wishing listeners to have. The crackly presentation of the piano recordings is quite nice, and the cut-up footsteps opening the disc are immediately engaging. Because of this, I’m torn between feeling miffed about missing a more pure initial appreciation of these sounds; and having to let it go– Asher has a concept worth exploring, and asking him to tailor his needs to those of the listener wouldn’t be appropriate.
For me, “Intervals” is a close-but-not-quite affair. There’s no doubt I’ll be listening to more of Asher’s work in the future, and with any luck, everything will come together next time around.