RIYL = Emeralds, Philip Jeck, Keith Fullerton Whitman
Who is Sam Hamilton? That is what I was asking myself when I first took a recommendation to listen to Sooty Symposium. Apparently Hamilton is a New Zealander with a knack sound experimentation. We here at Forest Gospel have enjoyed plenty of wonderfully odd music broadcasted from Lord-of-the-Rings-land previously (most notably Pumice and Birchville Cat Motel) so I was excited at the prospect of some more sonorous weirdness from deep in the south Pacific. My first reaction after listening to Sooty Symposium all the way through went something like this: “…….whoa!” I thereby immediately started back at the first track only to be similarly, if not more so, astounded. I know I just heaped some intensely generous praise on Axolotl’s Of Bonds In General only a couple of days ago, but believe me when I say that Sooty Symposium is operating at a similarly I-can’t-believe-how-freakin’-good-this-is level. This post on Mr. Sam Hamilton’s Sooty Symposium marks the second of this week to claim a 2009 listening status of imperative. So, lets get to the music. What about this is so ‘imperative.’ Hamilton starts things of with two long droning tracks filled with layers of humming organ-type tones and then topped with flutter of electronic fluttering and chirping, and it only becomes thicker from there. In addition to the continually morphing and layering of hum and blip, on album opener “Old Gravel Roads Winding Out into the Dark Night of the Countryside” (an apt description of the music in itself), Hamilton adds some regal horns to the mix, repetitious and sparse at first before being multiplied and let loose near the end. There are probably a variety of other instruments locked in there as well, but everything has been pretty well manipulated into indecipherable oblivion. “Epoch of Snares” follows the opening track and extends into a sixteen minute grind of glistening, vibrant, moody electronics. It is a gorgeous ride. After two tracks that exceed the ten minute mark, Hamilton transitions with two very brief tracks, one of which finds him playing a beautiful acoustic guitar melody. The final two tracks are a bit briefer than the opening two, but still manage to span past the seven minute mark (this is a full album to say the least). Things transition slowly from here, but not in a boring way. The drones feel a little more guitar based and metallic. A series of wordless yells bursts through at the end of “Blue Tide, Black Water” before evolving into the closer, “March in April/Andrews Eternal Birthday.” Sooty Symposium must be listened to in its entirety, but this final track is really the kicker for me as what I assume is Sam Hamilton voice comes through for a couple playful verses among the mix of colliding sounds and field samples that float about the finale. Such an incredible record. Anyway, Sooty Symposium is a pretty hard find as far as distribution goes so you should probably just hit him up at his MySpace - you’ll be glad you did.
Sam Hamilton on MySpace