René Margraff, under the moniker of Pillowdiver, releases music that takes feelings of both intimacy and the oblivion of a listener’s identity to musical heights that have previously been reserved for the likes of Celer and Chubby Wolf. Titled simply as Cassette Recordings and released on Japanese label Analogpath, with the label’s trademark stark, minimal aesthetic suiting the music to the nth-degree, beautifully setting aside a portion of blank canvas in the listener’s mind that the music inhabits, Margraff has surpassed past efforts such as 2011‘s Twisted Tree Line release Elliott, Lou & Bill.
Indeed, the album sleeve gives nothing away about the musical content, making it a record wherein everything is stripped away aside from the listener’s experience of the music itself. This ‘stripping away’ is indeed an apt notion to keep in mind when listening to the album, as the individual tracks - titled merely as the date of their recording - slowly seem to be taking different routes within the same overall musical location: shimmering, veiled guitar, gently peaking and clipping bass waves, and multifaceted drones that startle one with their elegance.
Yet whilst there are undoubtably many hidden depths to each track that are only revealed with multiple listens, the beauty of Cassette Recordings is that one isn’t made to work unnecessarily hard to gain a glimpse at what Pillowdiver is all about. With the longest of the six tracks coming in at only just over nine minutes, and the release overall being a mere thirty eight minutes long, Margraff offers up slices of the crème de la crème of ambient drone in this release, suitable for both the sound-art virgins and those individuals who will happily absorb the wild, monolithic drones of early Windy and Carl releases for hours on end. A remarkable release.
Review by Max Hampshire