dead lizard grin (a.k.a. Terry Skaggs)

dead lizard grin (a.k.a. Terry Skaggs) follows up on his excellent April release Notes from a Temporary World with a new full-length titled We Are Shadows Dispersing Upon the Warm Spring Air. While the composer/synthesist/producer tries out a palette of tones here that remain in line with his typically zoned out and transportive drone/ambient excursions, this album finds him shifting his practice toward the twin poles of absolute formless drift and more animated, even beat-driven composition.

The title track kicks off the album with a flurry of percussive synth tones and technoid beat elements that percolate through the back of the mix, immediately establishing a contrast to the more smeared, amorphous song structures of Notes from a Temporary World. Using a tuned and filtered kick drum as a form of bass line in itself, the rhythmic backdrop never seizes control of the track, but rather sinks into a gentle and sinuous rhythm that provides a sense of forward motion for the blurry synth drone voices that come to swirl around it.

dead lizard grin's “We Are Shadows Dispersing Upon the Warm Spring Air”

“The Failure of the Future” and “Sleep Like Ashes” both extend past the 10-minute mark and make the most of their running time to allow Skaggs’ synth work to slowly congeal and swell against a backdrop of pitch-black nothingness. Fragments of melody appear in slow motion within this haze, and the track generates additional weight with the piece-by-piece introduction of textural hums and soft layers of static.

The four tracks that constitute the rest of the album each introduce a central rhythmic element that serves as a foundation for other more arrhythmic voices to interact with. “Dream Vectors” benefits from a transfixing central synth arpeggio voice that chimes up and down the scale, made more detailed with gentle touches of overtone sculpting. “A Soundtrack For Isolation 4” makes the most of a glitched sound palette that warps each synth patch into a stuttering, quasi-melodic strand of sound, planted against warbling sine wave accents. “The Poetry of the Smokescreen” approaches a more euphoric atmosphere with its wordless vocal tones, approximating a choral arrangement that evolves in tandem with a churning, almost organ-like synth voice.

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