A microphone by a roadside. If Hiss Tracts betray an affinity to musique concrète, then it’s found more in their sensitivity of listening than their occasional use of field recordings. ‘Shortwave Nights’’s droning forms exist within an eternal present, one that’s multi-faceted and infinitely detailed: this is music that throws open the aural dimension, unearthing depth and nuance within the humblest of sounds. On its cover, a microphone sits by a roadsideBut it’s not just about deep listening: ‘Shortwave Nights’ is hardly documentarian, and never Cageian.

Hiss Tracts’ soundworld is as intentionally constructed as those of their previous work with the likes of Set Fire To Flames and Godspeed You! Black Emperor – the former’s atmosphere of prettified dejection and conflicted nostalgia for the rural being an especially close reference point. On its cover, there’s no microphone, no road, only their aestheticized image – indistinct, suggestive. And all this makes ‘Shortwave Nights’ a rare, beautiful thing: an ambient album that’s neither anonymous in its abstraction nor stifled by its glimmers of compositional intervention.


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