IF YOU’RE an avid reader of these pages, you’ll have come across Sam Wenc only recently in connection with RON, the very fine textural ambient twosome he forms exactly one half of in connection with Carl Laukkanen; and whose “What Can The Feeling” we were more than a little pleased to premiere a few weeks ago, here.
But Sam also has other, very seductive, solo irons in the fire; he fires up a kiln of a more analogue kind with his Post Moves project, and he’s just released an album, Cut Into Your Own Dimension, on which he explores the sonic and melodic possibilities of that swooping, yearning, old-skool country go-to instrument, the pedal steel guitar, and what lusciousness he can create with that in collusion with a smattering of tronica textures and field recordings; straight-up guitar, even a little violin and vibraphone down the alley.
Here today at Backseat Mafia he’s premiering the video for a track from that album, “Bob’s Peace In West Texas”, which you can watch below.
The video takes a whole cavalcade of digital graphics effects from across recent decades – the pixelation and lo-res of the arcade game, the ultra-clean and smooth graphic shapes of the Nineties, the actually not-quite full dimensionality of early PlayStation games – and sets forth a river of strange and neo-psychedelic imagery against which the tune plays out.
This exercise in the brilliantly bizarre was created by Jeremy Lee Faulkner, who also makes intriguing and delectably wonky, hauntological music as Final Dorm.
The song – nay, piece – itself is a deep dive into that realm of ambience that plays up against the beauties of distortion and decay, with a Harold Budd-like electric piano setting up a chiming, melodic pattern; there’s resonance, echo, a pedal steel remade in the spirit of Jim O’Rourke, circa Bad Timing; and even, once the electricity of high, feedback tones and scratchy violin, full of scour and sustain and wire, kick in, flavours of Dirty Three or Richard Skelton.
Elsewhere the album plays in rarified and more electronic atmospheres, seducing with high-register mantra and shimmer, playing with that mesa landscape evocation that the pedal steel brings so well (“George Through The Window”); a more blissful post-rock approach to the instrument (“Cassandro And The Love That Is Prayed For”); the contemplative spoken word and strings of “Anna’s Balm For The World”.
Cut Into Your Own Dimension was composed by Sam during a time of change: he’d left Portland, his home of a decade, for the West Coast, and the Big Apple; a time for him more of exultation at new vistas than one of fear.
Unlike its predecessor, No Dignity in Haste – an album that Sam had been stewing over for years, waiting for the right time to unfurl it – Cut Into Your Own Dimension was conceived and laid down quickly.
He says it’s his “first real synthesis of the sounds, moods and textures that I’ve been drawn to over the years.”
Sam began taking pedal steel guitar lessons with the legendary Susan Alcorn last year and foresaw new ways, new versatilities for the instrument. Although there will always be room for that particular yearning, redolent tone it brings, he says he wanted to get away from “the amiable associations of the pedal steel as a soft and cushioning presence.
“I wanted to set it alongside screeching fiddle, glitchy synths, dulcimer hammering and spoken word.”
And as you can tell, there’s a real human schemata at work in the album’s titling, as he explains.
“The album in general is centered around an acknowledgement of the impact and forces of figures both close and distant in my life, ” he says.
“I call out song names that reference family members, close friends, fictional characters, favorite songwriters, and a random old man in a deli.
“My aim was to honor the composition of these people in shaping my existence (the album name, Cut Into Your Dimension, acting as a directive to myself to investigate these forces further).
“‘Bob’s Peace in West Texas’ is named after a close friend of my father’s. As my father was struggling with sobriety, this friend came back into his life after years apart and helped guide him towards a sober life. Just as my father was getting sober, Bob passed away suddenly while working on a ranch in Texas.
“Though I didn’t know him intimately, I wanted to honor the impact he had on my life as a direct result of his impact on my father’s life.”
And what a fine, sonically exploratory elegy Bob now has. Peace, Bob; props, Sam.
Post Moves’ Cut Into Your Own Dimension is out now on digital download and cassette via Noumenal Loom; you can pick up your copy from the label’s Bandcamp page, here.