Posted by Tobias Carroll
It’s after midnight, and I’m listening to Ways of Meaning, the latest album from the ambient musician and composer Kyle Bobby Dunn. The first album I heard of his was 2009’s Fervency, though a quick glance at his Wikipedia page points out the obvious: the man is prolific. It didn’t hurt that critics whose opinion I respect — Ned Raggett and Joe Tangari both come to mind — had had good things to say about Dunn’s work. Nor did it hurt that Dunn works in a particularly blissed-out strain of the ambient/drone world, a style I find myself becoming more and more fond of as the years go by.
Ways of Meaning‘s “Dropping Sandwiches (In Chester Lake)” summons a mood of slowly building resonance and melancholy. Listening to the ebb and flow of pieces like “Canyon Meadows,” I hear more than a little of the richness of Stars of the Lid in Dunn’s sound. This isn’t a bad thing at all; neither does it hurt that he seems to have picked up their fondness for cheeky profanity — another song on the album is titled “Movement for the Completely Fucked.” Occasionally, I do find myself frusted when attempting to describe Dunn’s music; it doesn’t lend itself well to elevator-pitch consolidations, but it’s also difficult to find one central idea or overarching theme by which one can characterize his work. The best songs on Ways of Meaning — which is the bulk of the album — are carefully played, emotionally rich drone pieces. I’s not a bad way for Dunn to enter his second decade of making music.