Review: Western Skies Motel – Prism

Western Skies Motel - PrismAt certain points, I stop listening to René Gonzàlez Schelbeck’s classical guitar melodies and focus on the flurrying attack of his picking hand instead. The motion is cyclical and delicate, like a feather pushed against the spokes of a spinning bicycle wheel. The consistent means that Schelbeck can slow down and speed up as the moment takes him, like the same bicycle cruising to the top of tiny hills, slowing on the inclines and tumbling swiftly down the other side. After a while, it’s the string attack that mesmerises me. The sound of nails catching metal over and over again, sometime resembling the dull thud of rubber pellets showering upon a conservatory roof (“Comfort Me”), sometimes rattling and untidy like a shaken sewing machine (“Insistence”). This attack is tweaked and modulated from piece to piece, treated like an instrument in itself. In the sparseness of the album as a whole (all of these pieces are just Schelbeck solo) they are vital variations in mood and appearance; shadows falling differently, subtle discolorations, sharpened teeth.

The melodies themselves generally centre on two chords in alternation, fed into eachother in a sort of respiratory symbiosis. The harmonic longing of one chord is clasped in the warm, loving hands of another. His melodic choices are tense, strange – triads with one side hanging loose – although there’s a certain gracious, classical guitar sensibility about the whole thing, with Schelbeck’s technique and penchant for gloomier keys falling well within the expected utility of his instrument. Yet with repetition, the molecules blur until I don’t recognise the supposed hallmarks anymore. Prism becomes a prickly sea of drone, no longer a sequence of events threaded into a virtuoso ribbon, but a liquid consciousness of constant, activated instinct; an outpouring in the only manner Schelbeck knows how.