Posted on March 17th, 2011 (1:04 pm) by Brandt Kempin

It is difficult to find any detailed information about Tom Vourtsis other than that he is a drone/ambient noise musician from New York. His Bandcamp bio simply reads “dead noise”, an appropriate description of his work. His first album, The Driver, was self-released and consisted of six songs, each named after a color. His second album, Mothhunting, was released March 15th via Music Ruins Lives, a small label home to artists such as Lonesummer, Planning for Burial, Life In The Dark, and others with similarly bleak names.

Vourtsis’ Mothhunting is no stranger to the concept of bleakness. The album is an industrial swamp of droning guitar and field samples that according to his website “mimics the 24-hour heartbeat of a deteriorating city from dawn to dawn.” For anyone besides the avid drone/noise fan, this one may prove to be a bit of a challenge, but it is worth the effort.

“Overlookers”, a track that particularly illustrates Vourtsis’ unique brand of drone, begins with an electrical buzzing and guitar that groans like a hungry wind. This buzzing gives way to a fast, rhythmic pounding like that of a jackhammer which in turn is drowned by an electric shimmering that mixes with the meandering guitar in a way that calls to mind severed electrical wires, still live, hanging over a wet city street during a winter storm.

The title track “Mothhunting”, which sounds almost like someone finished recording a monologue on a hand held recorder and then decided to clean the room, forgetting to press the stop button, gives way to the eleven minute colossus “Crowhurst”. This track encompasses the idea of “dead noise” by transporting listeners to a desolate cityscape existing only through the powerful forces of habit and inertia. Trains run on schedule, but carry no one. Driverless cars flawlessly obey traffic signals on their endless routes to nowhere in particular. Static and creaking build into a looming sense of dread and culminate into the terrifying feeling that that there is some sort of malevolent force orchestrating and feeding upon all of this meaningless motion.

The album closes with a new dawn that redeems the first. The city center is left behind for the outskirts where we are presented with soothing, violin-esque drones over a repeating sound that could be wind or water as easily as it could be the distant passing of semi trucks driving to some unknowable destination on a trajectory perpendicular to the Sun’s course.

Though individual tracks may give an idea of what to expect from this album, it is one that needs to be listened to in its entirety. The bottom corner of a painting is not a microcosm for the painting as a whole, and this album is much more of an auditory painting than a disparate collection of singles. Though a bit boring at times, Mothhunting paints a picture that is as rich in color and texture as a magnified oil painting of the hands of a 90-year-old woman. It is worth giving a listen, and all tracks are available for streaming at his Bandcamp page.

Track List:

1. Ghost Doze
2. Overlookers
3. Mothhunting
4. Crowhurst
5. Attic Summers

tom vourtsis
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

71 / 100
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