Review: (ph)authers – (ph)authers (Polar Seas Recordings, Jul 27)

On this self-titled debut tape from Ontario duo (ph)authers, tension is built and released with masterful ears. They craft delicate but substantial pieces from field recordings, synth and guitar ambiance, even the occasional bowing of string instruments, and the dynamic movement this palette creates is breathtaking. The tape is barely twenty-five minutes long, but at its end I felt contentment and closure rather than dissatisfaction at its short duration. This is largely due to the careful dynamic structure previously mentioned; (ph)authers have managed to cultivate an incredibly natural gait within their music, both tracks ambling along at a comfortable but deliberate pace, ebbing and flowing and rising and sinking in the way only great ambient music can. With this stuff it’s sometimes easy to fall into the trap of predictability, but thankfully that hasn’t happened here. (ph)authers forego constant crescendos and cheesy climaxes in favor of organic drifts and more reserved catharsis, a perfect example of the latter being the soft recording of rainfall that emerges at the end of “Beneath the Tide;” certainly much more effective and impacting than any cliches I could think of. (ph)authers is a debut release that displays the thoughtfulness and skill of a much longer-running project, so needless to say I am excited for what the duo comes up with next.