WBNY Upstate Soundscape, 2011 in Review: soundBarn, 'Valentine'

While soundBarn is the experimental guitar project of Thomas Lail and Patrick Weklar, the name soundBarn also refers to a performance space–run by Lail and his artist/gallerist wife Tara Fracalossi located in Valatie, NY–which often hosts performances by the Albany Sonic Arts Collective. Furthermore, soundBarn exists as a press entity and recently published a series of poetry chapbooks including one from Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth.

The connection between the music of soundBarn and Sonic Youth is apparent on the duo’s 2011 CD Valentine whereby–true to Sonic Youth ideals–the duo utilizes prepared guitars to create sprawling tracks loaded with feedback-laced mayhem.

Yet, for a recording of some guys simply making noise with their guitars, there are moments throughout Valentine that defy what one expects. What is particularly striking about the recording is how, as the sound unfolds, the listener is able to find a wide range of moods and emotions to be enveloped in. There are points where the screeching noise drops down to delicate-sounding spots, where it then builds back up to a cacophonous clatter, or eerily shifts into a horror film score-like atmosphere. In other words, this diversity and unpredictability makes this one of those longer tracks that you are able to keep on repeat, letting the sound circle you while the shifting moods in the track color the experiences around you.

Surprisingly, Valentine, released by Tape Drift—the label of fellow Albany Sonic Arts Collective member Eric Hardiman–is the duo’s first release in the twenty years of their making music together. The single track that comprises the release was recorded live at the soundBarn venue around Valentine’s day (hence the name) with only minimal editing prior to its release.

Valentine is a great release and hopefully it will not take the duo another twenty years to release something else. Fortunately, the duo performs regularly in the Albany area, and at the soundBarn venue, including an upcoming fundraiser for a local gallery and ASAC venue the Upstate Artists Guild.

Listen to an excerpt of soundBarn: valentine here

Review by Andrew White