This relatively brief slice of smudged clutter is the first we’ve heard from Brighton’s Slow Listener since the doomy heft of 2013s The Long Rain. But it’s succinct and still pretty enticing. Well executed too, despite the rather functional nature of its track titles (more of which below). I Went Too Far Didn’t I? When Should I Have Stopped? has a less obvious sonic frame than Robin Dickinson’s previous work, with fewer samples and less of those looming, dark ambient synths that caressed us like a hooded spectre cuddling a terrified Victorian service maid. There’s more space this time, enabling Dickinson’s beloved found sounds to take centre stage. We get just two 10-minute pieces, the first one reminiscent of a drunken longhorn lazily trashing their favourite crockery emporium, the other sounding like your local campanologist’s circle warming up for a night ringing out the changes, Zen master style.
On One side – see what I mean about the titles? – the gritty clunks crash down with the sort of irregular inevitability of a slowly collapsing building, the wedges of white noise positioned in space with a 3D clarity and depth even as they batter your eardrums. I particularly dig the stuttering, scraping beginning, with glittering electronic burbles sprinkling a silvery dust over everything. It gets sparser as it goes on, and that’s good, but it exudes a mournful, almost spectral feel too, Dickinson threading rustles and whines between his burps of white noise, as if the ruin is crying out for its last occupants to help speed the demolition along. A hauntological rewrite of Shakin’ Stevens’ This Ole House, anyone?
Meanwhile, T’other side (that really is the title) steps away from the wreckage with an exploration of irregular, overlapping tones that conjure, all too briefly, blissful dreams of glittering caverns and deep, welcoming pools. There are echoes of gamelan here, of Himalyan Singing Bowls and of Morton Subotnik’s irregular shapes in the hazy, soft-edged ringing, and the fact that you can hear the slight clips of Dickinson’s edits only adds to the trippy charm. I’m tempted to say that it’s a liquidy sound but it’s metallic too, like a set of strange resonant shells, impossibly beautiful but excessively fragile, glistening exoskeletons that melt and flow away as soon as they’re struck. At just under nine and a half minutes, it’s far too short – I could have hunkered down for another 15 minutes of this, at least. Not so much a case of ‘When should I have stopped?’ and more like: ‘Where can I get me another helping?’