Ian MacPhee – Everything
10.7.22 by Matty McPherson
Ventura art space show with a five band bill can put you in contact with a lot of chaps. Had a moment to catch up with my two favorite Cal Arts oriented Flenser-core acts: Sprain (LP2 one day in another dimension) and Drowse (who is currently working on a doctorate there in performing arts; rock on sir). Both continuing to evolve as humans and refine their own documentations of 2020s era decrepit mindsets and botched pathways to human transcendence; alright that’s just a fancy way for me to say “I think their doom-laden sounds hit the q-zone for what DIY can provide at the moment.” Anyways, one of the chaps on the bill was Ian MacPhee. He’s done an ample job keeping one ear tethered to the world of Moon Glyph, Aural Canyon, HausMo, Orange Milk, and other ambience in Simi Valley, a special kind of suburban dystopia.
Everything is MacPhee’s C20ish demo release (2 tracks on Bandcamp, with a third bonus on the tape), likely the first sounds he’s decided to amply share with the world. “Line 6 DL4, Yamaha Portasound, the sounds outside my house [in Simi Valley, CA].” that’s the template he’s serving on. It likely deserves a home in your collection if you have a heart for “freeway ambience” and “subterranean overpass rave.” Seriously, that’s the best way I can describe the longforms and the surprisingly detailed short rave single that interludes between them. The title track lands somewhere between whatever maverick energy Jefre Cantu-Ledesma found himself nestled with on the radiant longform work of Tracing Back the Radiance. Seriously, just imagine a gargantuan six lane interstate carrying you out of the SFV by moonlight. MacPhee might as well have, taking a mix of chill out room ambience (from small electronic squiggles to field recordings) and pouring it into a soft yet powerfully radiating guitar drone. It’s the whole framework of the Side A longform, those chords played out like a series of deep breaths, longing to glide off towards somewhere far away.
Meanwhile, “LEAVING” opens side 2 as a rather enigmatic ethereal near-rave soundscape. Guitar reverb mended by murky drum machines that sound like they were captured from one flooded basement over; all the while the edges of the sound frizzle and fry. It’s a memory of an energy flash more than a snapshot of a rave outright, a fantastic proof of concept for where MacPhee could well end up on his next release. Shame it can only sustain itself for three-ish minutes, as that frizzle sudden deteriorates the ferric until it just swallows itself whole, but then again that’s what makes it such a potent track. Spring pt. 2 appears to close at the tape; it’s the most straightfoward ambient cut as well as a bit of a ghostly sound hunt. MacPhee teases small glimmers of feedback while a strange, squiggly aberration tip toes across the frequencies. It ebbs and flows, using small impasses of noise as if to suggest a tension. Although its quick fade out perhaps leaves the track as is, more a suggestion of what’s to come than a full blown assault.
Limited run of hand dubbed cassettes, design by Jeremy Colegrove, available at the Ian MacPhee Bandcamp page