The Mansion is Chicago-based synthesist Brett Naucke's sophomore outing for John Elliott's (Emeralds) Spectrum Spools label. It's also the Editions Mego offshoot's first release since they dropped the Second Woman LP last April. Naucke spent about two years crafting the soundscapes that comprise this release, simultaneously engaging in dream cataloguing and navigating the hazy murk of his early childhood memories. The resulting compositions are complex and meticulously honed pieces of electro-acoustic music assembled into a hallucinatory narrative spiral that lays Naucke's subconscious bare.
Traditionally favouring modular synthesis, Naucke here imbues his creations with live instrumentation (piano, the viola of Whitney Johnson), voice (courtesy of Natalie "TALsounds" Chami) and field recordings. Cleverly wrought melodic passages are ornamented with intricate, multi-tiered microcosms that seem to writhe with a life-like bustle. The energy ebbs and flows, yet frequently strays toward both the fidgety and the introspective ends of the spectrum, sometimes simultaneously.
It is clear that Naucke spent a tremendous amount of effort — both physical and psychic — in the creation of this album, his conceptual zenith (at least thus far). The sheer volume of ideas and the painstaking way in which they've been assembled effectively expounds the immense nature of this undertaking. That it pays off is almost a given; Naucke's catalogue essentially points to this moment in time. The Mansion is the culmination of a career's worth of skill and spirit. (Spectrum Spools)