Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best Albums of 2011 #11 Nicholas Szczepanik - Please Stop Loving Me (Streamline)

Please Stop Loving Me - a stirring opus from drone maestro Nicholas Szczepanik - is probably the best "ambient" album released this year. Part of the reason is that "ambient" is an apt descriptor but all too often that word carries with it a pejorative connotation, referring to aimless and dreary tone music. Szczepanik's output is ambient but in a captivating, depthless way, one that entrances and transports the listener. That's especially true here. Please Stop Loving Me is utterly vast and dense, thick with mountainous static and oceanic canyons of tectonic drone. The album - a single, 47-minute long piece - manages to be tender and delicate and intimate, steeped in melancholy, but at the same time feels huge, pulsing like the tides along a frozen shore. Built, it seems, entirely around Szczepanik's organ and electronics, the music comes at times with the mournful quietude of whispering ghosts, at others with the solemn grandeur of a dying star. It begins murmuring like a hymn heard in the womb, continues through its resplendent middle passage, and slowly slides into its shimmering, crystalline final act. There's even a glorious moment near the end where the organ rings out joyful, elating, full to the brim with light, before fading ever so gently into silence. All told it's a stunning three-quarters of an hour and one of the finest pieces of ambient music I've heard in some time.

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