Published Dec 07, 2016Tristan MacNeil grew up in the small Southern town of Augusta, Georgia, was trained in fine arts and has worked in the food service sector. All three of these elements factor into Blood, his debut record as Nude With Lyre. The record has some of the syrupy rhythms and drums of Southern hip-hop, the contemplative fragility of ambient music and the disarmingly rough textures of a restaurant kitchen (alarms, sizzles, pops and other noises).
MacNeil has described his music as "dirty south drone," and while the connections are tenuous, it does help contextualize the sonic space of his music. The bass drum on "Lonely" has a muted "boing" to it, and (along with "Purple") contains compressed handclaps. However, the rest of the textures (feedback, synths and reverbed out falsetto, mainly) give it a more slow-head-nod-as-you-melt-through-the-floor sort of vibe.
While some parts drone, Blood doesn't feel like the kind of ambient record that is supposed to be "ignorable" background music. The quicksilver soundscapes began as score work for a film that never happened, and then gestated with MacNeil for a while. The dark synth riff of "Racer" could deftly soundtrack a nighttime race scene through a desolate landscape, like something from the Jake Gyllenhaal film Nightcrawler.
Perhaps the most personal element here is the rough textures evoking service sector labour. A lot of drone and noise music might use buzzing, whirring sounds, but MacNeil's music sounds like someone who has worked with those sound sources up close, day after day. In his nocturnal dreams, the ocean has risen up over most of the South, and deep fryers and drum machines echo and drift in the deep blue expanse. Blood is a captivating debut. (Independent)