There’s something about Ways Of Meaning that feels like a journey inwards. Preceding releases were far from devoid of the intimacy present here – it’s just that, whereas the emotional aspect of the music was previously the colour palette with which to paint luscious imaginary landscapes, this album sounds as though its rooted in home, feeding off Dunn’s emotions from the source. Of course, this reviewer can only speculate as to whether this is the case. Only the artist can know for sure.
“Dropping Sandwiches In Chester Lake” is the first of four shorter pieces that utilize a more direct approach to Dunn’s trademark sound. Instrument timbre holds a stronger and more visible presence in among the evaporated waves of reverb, enhanced by the post-recording processing as opposed to utterly transformed. The initial construction process isn’t merely used as a gateway to elsewhere – there’s a lot of emphasis on the composition here, with distinct melodies often in a forefront role.
The two longer pieces take on more abstract forms. “Canyon Meadows” sounds like violins bending and dripping from a high ceiling in intermittent gloopy bursts. And then there’s the 15-minute “Movement For The Completely Fucked”, which drifts into open air and forgets to come home. They sort of act as hazy daydreams in between the concise and more decisive pieces that surround them, untethered to structure, caught in harmonic suspension, with natural instrument decay smudged into gentle, dimming fade-outs.
The only piece that doesn’t sufficiently impress is “New Pures”, which comes across as a rather forgettable transitional piece, lacking enough identity to distinguish itself from your typical cut of floaty ambience. This isn’t a criticism one can make of Ways Of Meaning as a whole though – while comparisons to artists such as Stars of the Lid can be justified, they do nothing to encompass the rich presence of personality that pours out of this release.