My love for the Vancouver-based Transmolecular Compendium (not sure if they still use that name actually!) knows no bounds. My introduction to this incredible group of artists started with the inimitable SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL, but wzrdryAV was right in the thick of things shortly thereafter. Kelly Nairn’s music as wzrdryAV flies a different path than SKRS, but I’ve always seen them as excellent complements to each other. With West Coast Systems, his ambient synthesis reaches a new level, floating in a cloud-like zone of unconscious perception.
Hiss-laden compositions with ghost melodies that barely exist, flickering in the distance like a streetlight with faulty wiring. Nairn masterfully crafts soundscapes with a physical aspect to them; it’s music I can feel gently flowing over my skin like a soft, loving caress. “Nuns Island” is that spectre you know is there, but can’t quite touch, leaving cold drafts in unexpected places. Everything is at arms-length, frustratingly out-of-reach while simultaneously offering comfort with its familiarity. When “Elysian Chorus” glides through dense fog zones with droning, extended melodies that only reveal their existence after extended meditation. Any melodic elements are accidental, a happy byproduct of loops and samples stretched beyond their breaking point.
Barry Truax (who’s brilliant Sequence of Earlier Heaven is a long-time favorite) is mentioned as a reference point and it makes sense. West Coast Systems concocts fresh new avenues for exploring the mix of synthesis and field recording (and sampling in wzrdryAV’s case). With a name like West Coast Systems, immediate images of sun kissed beaches and heavy bass come to mind, but it’s great that Nairn spins it the other direction. This is ambient music for the grey zone.