Friday, September 16, 2011

Nicholas Szczepanik - Please Stop Loving Me

Please Stop Loving Me, the meticulous, hypnotic new album from Nicholas Szczepanik (a name that's about as hard to type quickly as it is to pronounce) is a single 47-minute long piece of utterly transportive, thickly layered drone. Guided by a single organ note that subtly shifts, ebbs, and flows, this album-length piece is like an entire symphony in terms of scope and emotion and movement but one collapsed into itself and then slowed to the speed of plate tectonics. In terms of momentum but also scale, this album is akin to some kind of sonic continental drift. And I mean that in the best possible way; Please Stop Loving Me is stunning from its deep, echoing intro - murmuring like a hymn heard in the womb - through its glistening, resplendent middle passage, and into its shimmering, crystalline final act. Tim Hecker and Szczepanik are contemporaries and there are shades of the former's benchmark setting Radio Amor here but this year Szczepanik has bested Hecker, himself one of the very best in the biz. Both men put out albums of deep, expansive drone music with a heavily processed church organ taking center stage. Ravedeath, 1972 - Hecker's contribution that features the mighty Ben Frost on production duties - may be great but it doesn't achieve the emotional depth or sonic richness found here. Szczepanik's organ and electronics come at times with the mournful quietude of whispering ghosts, at others with the solemn grandeur of a dying star. There's even a glorious moment near the end where the instrument rings out joyful, elating, full to the brim with light, before fading ever so gently into silence. Please Stop Loving Me is not only one of the best drone albums of the year, it's one of the best things I've heard this year of any kind.