Review: Peter’s Gate – Field Recordings and Shortwave Volume I (self-released, Feb 22)

Even though I and I’m sure many others are partial to the immediately recognizable sounds of shortwave radio recordings, producing compelling music in which they are the sole ingredient is more than just adjusting an antenna or twiddling a dial. Field Recordings and Shortwave Volume I, a new digital release by a self-described “post-rock duo,” contains the first material I’ve heard since Alyssa Festa’s 2017 self-titled tape that harnesses shortwave in a way that’s truly beautiful, immensely evocative of the person or persons behind the knobs yet still embracing enough dull passivity to let the static and garbled speech shine in all its otherworldly spectral glory. As with Festa (who unfortunately will not release anything else under that alias), the Charlotte, NC–based Peter’s Gate doesn’t provide information about any sort of methodology behind the compositions or improvisations, instead letting them speak for themselves—and speak they do. “6.58-7.06” and “59.4kHz 9900.0kHz” establish familiar textural presences, including the deadpan recitation of codes and messages popularized by the Conet Project and others, and set the languid pace at which the majority of the album proceeds, an introduction that makes the much more sudden jumps used later on tracks like “Found Radio” and “Voice of Korea (Taiwan Missiles).” The former is a truly gorgeous piece of music, making ample use of both near-dead air and active frequencies to paint a greyscale spectrum of metamorphosing noise, fragile stasis, and ephemeral melody—the brief cut to the Eastern new age song about four minutes in is breathtaking. And if you still doubt the humanism of this work, order a CD, which will apparently bear handwritten thank-yous from both members. Long story short: tune in. Now.

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