Belong's October Language: 2006 treasure of static and buzz

Posted by Mark Beaver, March 13, 2009 02:07pm | Post a Comment

I get a strange thrill out of stumbling upon albums that sound exactly like what their cover suggests -- in this case, the ancient decaying photo of a pioneer-era buiding, probably from Belong's hometown of New Orleans; the spaces where the color saturates and the many spots where all color and image have been wiped away by time and the elements. October Language is the aural equivalent.

Compared to electronic frontiersmen like Fennesz and William Basinski, Belong (composed, for this recording, of conspirators Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones) make sounds that seem to be in the process of disappearing even as they first appear. The opening track, "I Never Lose. Never Really." begins with a tone like hearing an orchestra muted through the walls of a building, as if the swelling adagio would come through crystal clear if someone would just open the right door. Then it all begins to descend beneath an increasing tide of swirling static.

I find the whole album to be, essentially, meditational. There is a profound silence at the center of it, not unlike modern classical compositions by the likes of Arvo Part, Toru Takemitsu or Henryk Gorecki. The focus on electronics and instruments more often associated with Rock makes October Language more immediately reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless than anything within the Classical tradition.

There are very few vocal tones on the album, another factor that pulls it away from the Rock genre, and the pure focus on the build and wane of the sound and atmosphere places it among my favorite listens of the last few years.

Look around for it. For now, you'll find it cheap. If they keep producing albums of this strength, I don't imagine their out of print work will remain so for long. Belong also released two vinyl-only works in 2008, the one-sided, etched 12" Same Places (Slow Version):

and the 4-track 12" ep Colorloss Record:

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New Orleans (56), William Basinski (2), Arvo Part (1), Fennesz (1), Turk Dietrich (1), Henryk Gorecki (1), Michael Jones (1), Telefon Tel Aviv (4), Toru Takemitsu (1), Loveless (3), Belong (1), My Bloody Valentine (33)