The debut release by Ashlar, my collaborative project with Phil Edwards (PJE), is out now on Time Released Sound.
Both based in Merseyside, UK (Wil in Liverpool’s Chinatown, Phil in the Wirral), these two artists and friends began working together at the beginning of 2011. Lazy Saturday afternoons spent in various public houses in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter were followed by evenings jamming in Wil’s studio, culminating in the collection of textural ambient tracks ‘Saturday Drones’.
Scratchy field recordings made on mobile phones and minidisc combine with sprawling electric and acoustic guitar improvisations, grainy loops and blurry drones, embellished with analogue synthesiser and electronics.
This release will be available in two versions. The first deluxe and limited version will come in an edition of only 80 copies. Each of these comes in an original, old school commercial “clock dial” plastic bag package. Each package contains the original large and now slightly modified clock dial decal. Also included is a series of 5 reproduced prints of intriguing drone related products available from Ashlar Industries, a round 4″ Ashlar saturday drones sticker, aerial photographic paper ephemera, and a factory pressed replicated disc in an attached, hand printed/stamped envelope, with an inner cotton sleeve. The first 40 of these packages that are sold are 8″ x 10″ in size…the second 40 to be sold will be 9″ x 11″ in size. It won’t be fitting on your standard CD shelf! This thing looks like it’s been hanging on the rack in an old hardware store for the last 40 years..and it probably has!!
The standard version comes in hand printed/stamped paper sleeve w/ cotton insert, and unique drone imagery…there are 70 of this version available. The first 16 people to buy one of these standard versions at the website also get one of the round 4″ Ashlar stickers.
“Much of the discussion around field recording over the past few decades has focused on their use as sonic documents or as distillations of acoustic environments, but the trend in recent years of combining found sounds with composed musical elements is in my mind often more interesting. The juxtaposition of environmental sounds such as traffic noises, rushing of wind and water, and distant conversations with tones and melodies from traditional and non-traditional musical instruments can lead to the production of a new space that is more than simply a representation of a ‘real’ geographic location, having dimensions and coordinates all of its own. This space is what Giuliana Bruno in her book “Streetwalking on a Ruined Map” refers to as a “site without geography”, and is perhaps most frequently experienced in the form of magical dream worlds that offer a means of escape from reality while nonetheless retaining a direct link to the real – in other words, as the space of cinema.
Wil Bolton and Phil Edwards’ new album “Saturday Drones” adopts this approach of combining found and composed sounds, with the effect of producing a cinematic space in sonic form. The word “cinematic” in this sense has little to do with a kind of widescreen sound that aims to mimic the immersive phenomenon of cinema through a wide tonal range and use of lush timbres. Rather, it names the space that itself echoes the yearned-for utopian islands and semi-mythical homelands towards which desire is oriented and moves incessantly towards. This is the space that activates dreams, making them seem all the more real because of its references to real space. The drones referred to in the album’s title help extend this space by mapping it onto a recurring temporality, suggesting that the elsewhere of desire evoked through the music is also an elsewhen – not located firmly in a definite past or present, nor predicted in an expected future, but roving freely between each of these points. Thus “Saturday Drones” is both a flickering slideshow of half-imagined memories and a wander through the streets of dreamed-of future towns. It can only represent these things because it references the real – both the captured reality of the field recordings and the real chiming of a real guitar.
The name of the album comes from the habit shared by two friends of spending Saturday afternoon in the pub, followed by an evening of jamming in the studio. With this habit they managed to carve out a space during the week for wandering, like Baudelaire’s flâneur, through the streets of other possible cities. Listening to their work is like losing an hour in a darkened cinema – an experience that is completely immersive and transporting, yet offers new perspectives on the world living and moving outside. “Saturday Drones” is available from Stashed Goods in standard and deluxe versions, with packaging more than capable of evoking dreamworlds of its own.” – Fluid Radio
“This is literally a CD of drones that Phil Edwards and Wil Bolton made exclusively on Saturdays during 2011, which is a lovely idea I think. Not just for a record but for a nice way to spend your Saturday afternoons. Actually although it does contain drones, I wouldn’t say it’s strictly a drone record, more of a warm, melodic ambient one with field recordings and twinkling guitars.
The packaging for the deluxe version is super cool and the labour of love we have come to expect from Time Released Sound. If you want to read more about that go to the press release, where they’ve got so excited about it that they’ve forgotten to say anything about the music at all, which is a shame because it’s incredibly pleasant to listen to and I wouldn’t mind knowing a bit more about it myself.
I’m enjoying the clarity of the tones that are used here – so often in ambient/drone music the instruments being played can be blurred and processed into something ethereal but unrecognisable, but this is much more organic, sometimes going along the earthy Rain Drinkers-esque route, sometimes opting for synth drones with washes of guitar twinkle and field recordings layering undulating textures over the top.
The track ‘Hope Street’ has a melody which is strongly reminding me of one of the songs from the last Julia Holter album. I’m finding the whole thing rather hard to review as I keep drifting off into its warm, soothing melodies and having to snap myself out of a slack-jawed trance to write a few more words before it gets me again. In places it’s reminding me of Black Eagle Child at his most blissed out; there’s a sense of casual reflectiveness which belies the density of texture. A really lovely CD.” – Norman Records
“Over a thousand miles away geographically, but not far removed sonically, Wil Bolton is again employed on latest TRS exhibit, Saturday Drones, with Phil Edwards/PJE, who has previous on Twisted Tree Line, U-Cover, and Crazy Language. Their project, Ashlar, likewise involves combining found and designed sounds to create a space for a form of personalised lowlight drama. Here the twosome draw on a shared Merseyside heritage (Bolton in Liverpool’s Chinatown, Edwards in the Wirral), product of lazy Saturdayafternoons spent in various hostelries in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter followed by evenings jamming in Bolton’s studio, culminating in this set of textural ambient cameos. It’s a work imbued with personal nostalgia for a space and time that resonates with a yearning for elsewhereness and the poetics of what-once-was through the mythologizing of a homeland of desire’s back-projection; a site for dreaming, real-ized via reference to a space-time represented through field recordings, further fixed through the eponymous locative and temporally-activated music. The substance is somewhat thin—grainy minidisc and mobile-captures with sparse electric and acoustic guitar meanderings topped off with analogue synth and electronics. Yet despite these slender means Saturday Drones succeeds in configuring an environment conducive to flat-on-back couch-bound peregrinations through the quarters of cities real and imagined, and the remembered pasts and possible futures of every listener. ” – Igloomag
“Ashlar è la collaborazione tra due compositori elettronici provenienti dalla zona di Liverpool: Phil Edwards, alias PJE, e Wil Bolton (pregevole il suo recente “Under A Name That Hides Her“).
I due hanno cominciato a trovarsi in studio alla fine dello scorso anno per combinare le loro improvvisazioni su chitarre elettriche e acustiche con crepitanti field recordings raccolti su supporti di scarsa qualità.
Su questo costante substrato si dipanano i sei brani compresi in “Saturday Drones”, le cui avviluppanti stratificazioni di drone, che rasentano l’ambient più pura lungo i nove minuti di “Over The Water”, sono disseminate da languidi riverberi e da isolati frammenti di un picking dai vaghi sentori rituali (“Seventyone”).” – Music Won’t Save You