Even amidst the apparent stillness of my lounge, the earth I inhabit is hurtling through space at immense speed. Graduals inverts this principle. Through soundscapes of macro-level chaos – looped memories stuck in synaptic glitch, guitar drones coated in a distortion that mimics feral animals rattling against cages, synthesiser melodies that trace faintly like illuminated dust – Daniel W J Mackenzie crafts modes of panoramic stillness and equilibrium, sculpted so that the chaos cancels itself out. The turbulence feels earthly and organic; the gigantic drones of “Summoning Dust” rub against eachother because they should, in the name of an ecological balance that I experience but fail to fully understand. I feel at peace within the cyclonic spin, entrusting myself to a larger-level stability that only Mackenzie can perceive.
Sculpture doesn’t feel like the correct word, as this almost implies that Graduals interacts with some sort of neutral canvas – be it the breadth of the sky, or the horizontal bed of the earth. The record is everything. There are no absences into which the reverse chords of “Fields Forever” solemnly echo; only lesser and tinier presences, like little bacterium of siren and white noise and construction site drills, forming an illusion of emptiness that twitches with life on closer inspection. The album exists on every scale. If I stand back, the gentle drone spray of “Ky Ra” is like a night sky winking and gleaming, backdropped by the ghostly acoustics of the astral vacuum. It’s the biggest entity Mackenzie could possibly fathom. But within the electronic precipitation and the shiver of bass frequencies, I also hear the processes of a self-regulating body, correcting temperature and dampening anxiety in a constant flux of redressed balance. Drone on both a human and planetary scale.