Either/Orwell by Either/Orwell (Review)

RIYL Hammock’s guitar-based ambience, Robin Guthrie’s solo recordings, and Stars of the Lid.

I first wrote about Either/Orwell — the ambient side project from Writ on Water’s Jeff Mackey — several months ago. I’ve been listening to the final full-length for awhile now, and it’s certainly worth checking out if you’re a fan of Hammock’s guitar-based ambience, Robin Guthrie’s recent solo recordings, or Stars of the Lid.

The album’s strongest moments come when the duo of Mackey and Dangerous Trap’s Jarod Weldin grow more structured, melodic, and dare I say, song-oriented in the midst of their atmospherics. It’s hard not to imagine long autumn drives in the country whilst blissing out to “Vermontana“ s shimmering guitar loops, which drift by like so many clouds across a clear, bright September sky. “To Establish, To Release And Then To Recede,” on the other hand, is more pensive and reflective, with fragile melodies and slight drones curving ever more inward and introspectively as the song progresses.

If the album has one weakness, it’s that it can become repetitive — a danger when guitar loops, no matter how lovely and ethereal, are one of your album’s primary elements. As such, I find myself wishing for a bit more variety at times. “Radiocean Waves,” which brings to mind some of the more experimental sounds from Writ On Water’s albums, represents that sort of variety. At two-and-half minutes, it’s over far too soon, but even so, it adds a darker, more desolate atmosphere to the album that is rather bracing and intriguing.