Notes on Kyle Bobby Dunn

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.