“Seven transmissions from the Pacific Northwest” is how Vancouver-based artist Amir Abbey introduces Distant Works II, the latest album under the pseudonym Secret Pyramid. Whereas the first volume in the series was based on unused material from the album that became The Silent March (2011), this collection of dronescapes and sketches appear to freshly unearthed and molded by Abbey from field recordings, strings, piano, tape, synthesizers, and the highly distinctive sounds of the ondes martenot.
My first encounter with Secret Pyramid was Movements of Night issued by Alex Cobb’s Students of Decay in 2013 and I was immediately struck by just how profoundly emotional it was, especially in a genre that tends to gravitate to the obtuse and opaque. Groping for a way to put it into words (read the review here), I characterized the sound as having “a deep melancholy bordering on a sense of loss” but also being imbued “with a transcendent grace”.
Comparatively speaking, Distant Works II seems a bit more muted and the crepuscular filigree even more finespun. Abbey himself describes it “equal parts alien and serene”, but the profound emotional core is still there and still resonates, especially on the side-closers, the majestic centerpiece (‘IV’) and the achingly beautiful final coda (“VII”) which will haunt the listener long after its flickering back-light fades into silence. Gripping stuff.
Distant Works II is available directly from the artist as a digital download or on limited edition cassette. I also highly recommend checking out all the other aforementioned recordings which you can find either on his Bandcamp page or via Students of Decay.