What would you call Kyle Bobby Dunn? A sound artist? A musical visionary? A minimalist? A composer?
His A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn seems geared towards listing the Brooklyn-based and Canadian-born Dunn as all of the above. Filled with rich tapestries of sound and haunting, beautiful mood music, this is an album to savour and breathe in.
Self-discovery can be a bitch, especially when it leads you down roads you never planned on taking. The lingering prospect of learning about your deeper considerations is daunting, even in the best of times, and the wretched pit that you discover when you find your “true nature” is often nauseating. In any event, self-discovery is also the most rewarding trek we can take ourselves on.
For Dunn, self-discovery is a delirious cascade of mystery. A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn is more than just the culmination of all of his internal meanderings, of course. It’s a damn fine record and it stands as a mesh of ambient sound and purposeful trickery, coated all the while in the sweet nausea of, you guessed it, self-discovery.
The record is a double album. Four of the tracks on the first disc appeared as Dunn’s download-only Fervency, so it’s a treat to have them available here. The second disc contains material from the same period as the Fervency recordings.
“Butel” is over 17 minutes of calm, sure, but Dunn almost always layers his calm with a sense of something more elusive. Falsely soothing, “Butel” is sound creeping into open gaps and filling rooms like poisonous vapours. It’s a head game, really, and Dunn’s exploration of space is shiver-inducing grandness.
If Dunn’s music has a meditative quality, it’s by design. Much like Eno can be considered “music that just fucking sits there” for some, so Dunn’s work can be considered. But much like those who consider Eno’s work as such are fools, so are those who undermine what A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn really has going on under its surfaces.
“There is No End to Your Beauty” is gleaming loveliness. It’s a dancing cascade of stars and lights, but Dunn again lightly weaves the slightest of off-putting bits underneath so that you’re never quite sure. Like the aforesaid path of self-discovery, something is marvelously off about the whole thing.
Dunn’s album is brilliant. As a sound artist, musical visionary, minimalist, and composer, he has created a tradition of self-discovery with A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn. The music may have existed elsewhere prior to its arrangement on this particular double album, sure, but every segment and every moment of it feels uniquely breathed and carefully constructed.
Article originally published as I Hear Sparks: Kyle Bobby Dunn – A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn at Blogcritics.org