Mr. Greg Davis has been a rather busy fellow the past couple years. In addition to releasing a couple albums of electronic folk music and playing shows around the world, he's been tinkering with more drone-based pieces that don't quite fit within the context of what he normally creates. With both his debut Arbor and his follow-up Curling Pond Woods, Davis has put out some lovely understated music that has been lovingly labely folktronica by many.
As mentioned above, Somnia is a completely different batch of music. Given his interest in drone-based music and field recordings (he's released lots of different minimal type pieces on his Autumn Records label), it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but one interesting thing to note about the release is that each of the six tracks only has one instrument behind it. In comparison to label-mate (and friend) Keith Fullerton Whitmans Antithesis release, these tracks aren't simply organic instruments being played. Instead, each instrument is played and then filtered and filtered, oftentimes leaving very little of the original sounds behind.
Running almost an hour in length, the tracks on the release average out to nearly 10 minutes in length and listening to Somnia really is an exercise in quiet, undulating electronic shapes that flicker and burn away like crystaline ice suspensions melting in the early morning sun. "Archer" opens the disc with the filtered sounds of a bowed psaltery and the track feels like some sort of shimmering Charlemagne Palestine extended organ drone while "Clouds As Edges" leaves faint flickers of acoustic guitar sounds as soft stuttering tones get caught up and break free like some sort of glacial floe.
I suppose I shouldn't get too out of hand with my ice references, as Somnia isn't really a cold album. One could probably compare it somewhat similarly to the Playthroughs release by the aforementioned Keith Fullterton Whitman in that it takes sounds that are inherently organic (KFW used guitar tones through a massive series of pedals and filters) and pushes them into a place where they become completely removed from that sound source. The final two tracks of the release somewhat break the cycle of warmer and calmer sounds, putting a slight edge on the end of an album that could lead you to sleep very easily but then give you uneasy dreams if you let it. Winter will be here soon, and this could be your snowstorm soundtrack.