Salt Lake City-based ambient/noise deconstructionist Braeyden Jae has quietly issued a catalog of limited cassette releases over the last year or so, with memorable entries on Patient Sounds and Spring Break Tapes. His work injects the concept of the hushed drone session with ear-scrubbing elements of harsh noise, without ever crossing the threshold into alienating territory. Listen at low volume and you’ll glean little more than one or two sustained tones per session, bundled along with inklings of hiss and occulted synth lines into a standing cloud of rough texture. Crank the volume up to the level it deserves (IE very high) to properly catch the details that Jae folds into the spread: slow-burning melodies buried somewhere behind the rumble; the barely perceptible harmonic grid over which the session spins; the gradually thickening mire of static that buffers the edges of the mix.
Braeyden Jae’s new tape Held and Holding is out now on Bridgetown Records. “Held” fills the A-side with lightly cauterized drone exploration, unfolding in a slow enough upward trajectory as to make any shifts in harmony or timbre barely perceptible in the haze. The piece snaps in its final third into a gorgeous, clean-toned interlude — as if to provide a consonant reward for our focus — before ascending back into the thick guitar crunch of the coda. “Holding” keeps it crunchy from the start, and its layer of crackle only deepens over time. Though the session harnesses a relatively limited palette of sounds, it slides through minute variations in tone and intensity to sketch out a sinuous flow of activity abetted by the gentle filter sweeps of a lone synth voice in the din.