Stars of the Lid And Their Refinement of the Decline

Stars of the Lid And Their Refinement of the Decline
It’s been six years since Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie, the two principal members behind long-running ambient drone project Stars of the Lid, last released an album together; and 2001’s Tired Sounds was received as a career high watermark. That album, the band’s sixth, successfully streamlined their earlier and, oftentimes, rougher guitar-based drone into a prescient amalgamation of post-rock’s classical flirtations and avant-garde’s minimalism, something akin to Godspeed! playing the compositions of Morton Feldman. Refinement of the Decline is essentially the refinement of the duo’s core mission to slowly float off towards slumber. With two discs running over two hours, this is a glacier of a recording that fits into the band’s catalogue as an appropriate companion piece to Tired Sounds, though the former still stands as the stronger work. McBride and Wiltzie have extended their association with classical instruments to the point where they function mostly as conductors for a miasmic blend of warm, lush tones. Though technically brilliant, some may argue that after six years SOTL have spent too much time refining and not enough progressing. Ultimately, the expansive atmosphere of this album is what, for the first time in this band’s illustrious catalogue, sounds borrowed from previous work.

What have you been up to in the six years between Tired Sounds and Refinement?
Adam Wiltzie: I suppose it all started after I turned in Tired Sounds to Kranky. I had an epiphany of sorts: why is it that you must release music with such regularity? Around the time I released Avec Laudenum, some reviewer described my output as "prolific.” This always bugged me, because prolific does not really mean good, it just means a lot. Whatever happened to slaving over a record the way Richard Wagner used to do? He worked on Das Reingold for, supposedly, 20 years.

The album’s title seems like a self-conscious statement beyond just labelling the record.
Of course we are trying to be introspective, and also taking the piss out of ourselves, which we so often love to do because of our inability to take ourselves so seriously. I feel that we have honed our skills, in a sense, with the ever-looming aura of maybe we are at the end of the road and we are just a couple of wankers who just keep repeating ourselves. (Kranky)