"From Morning Meditation to Coda, this album charts a ruminative amble through some of the more beautiful places in your mind."
Amazon Music, Editorial Review
The kind of sound landscapes featured... provoke the listener to think outside the tonal box within which most of us have been listening to music most of our lives. Our responses then come in succession: Is this music? If the answer is negative is our response in and of itself a negative one? Then follows: what is it, what can we call it? What is the function of these sonic-electronic-experimental-exploratory-electroacoustic compositions? May we call them compositions? Must we affix labels to these works for us to better understand them?
As we try to respond to these questions in a fair-minded way, we find ourselves entering the realm of philosophy and, if not casting aside, at least setting aside our music critic hat. My gut feeling is first to just shut up and listen and give up preconceptions and expectations.
As I listened to the bucolic Morning Meditation and the equally lovely A Day at the Beach and the ostinato of David Margolin Lawson and David Merrill’s Rivière, followed by the unsettling Dark Angel to then segue to the welcoming calm of the six-minute-long Coda I realized I had been listening to the five soundscapes in SIGNALS for nearly one hour.
These works should certainly be permitted to stand on their own, with no need for one to assign. I found no cacophony, for all traditional concepts of melody, harmony and counterpoint were dispensed with, so that I found none of the tug-of-war between consonance and dissonance. I still found many moments to which I could attach qualities that we associate with sounds: unnerving, jittery, soothing, disturbing, pleasant. And then I asked myself if provoking a response is not the core function of organized sound.
Assuming what long hours or inspiration and perspiration went into the creation of SIGNALS... I followed my listener’s instincts and just listened.
Rafael de Acha
David Margolin Lawson and David Merrill are two sound engineers who met a number of years ago at CityVox studio in NYC. At that time they shared a love and respect for many of the early electronic music pioneers from the 20th Century, among them Edgard Varèse, Steve Reich, Morton Subotnick, and others; it wasn’t until more recently that the two actually began to work together and share ideas that they had individually been working on in the interim.
The album at hand, Signals, is their first collaboration together, five long tracks, each begun by one and further refined by the other, going back and forth until both composers agreed that they were ready for public consumption. They ply their trade with an assortment of modern and vintage analog and modular synthesizers, sequencers, studio effects and even field recordings.
Much of the material here could be classified as minimalist floating ambient dronescapes, a heady brew of sounds that occupies a space somewhere between mystical and meditative. As I listen to and review many so-called floating ambient releases almost as a matter of daily and nightly routine, I have to say that Signals seems to be cut from a slightly different cloth than most of what I regularly encounter, a bit more dark, eerie, and rough-cut than what many artists routinely produce. The set eases in with “Morning Meditation,” a sixteen-plus minute dream soundtrack that captures what might be a multicolored sunrise against a widescreen panorama of haunting and scintillating sounds and effects. Moving on, “A Day at the Beach” seems to explore a somewhat darker corner of L&M's universe, as gently rising and falling chordal drifts share a soundspace with odd sonic entanglements. “Rivière” is unusual among the five as it’s the only piece that’s built almost entirely on sequences. In the floating and shimmering aesthetic of “Dark Angel” we find another collection of dark and brooding textures that wind their way through cavernous structures, until finally we arrive at the closer, “Coda,” where the breath of color and sunlight appear again. After the darkness comes the light, but the listener will likely want a repeat experience in Signals’ immersive world.
Peter Thelen, Exposé Online
LAWSON & MERRILL/Signals: Electroacoustic soundscapers, this pair takes you on a space odyssey of another sort. Not drone, not ambient but at times most closest to ‘om’ it’s almost like progressive meditation music for meditation on Mars.
PLUGGED IN SOUNDS..Lawson & Merrill: Signals
A meeting of electronic minds takes place between David Margolin Lawson and David Merrill on this collection of five modular musings.
Inspired by the likes of Morton Subotnick, Edgard Varese and Steve Reich, the two create a kind of Tangerine Dreamlike tapestry on the soundscape of the 16 minute “Morning Meditation” , while soft puffy clouds float on the fluffy “A Day At The Beach” while the atmosphere turns to dark and ominous Nimbus warnings on “Dark Angel”. There’s a kind of Indonesian marimba on the static pulsed “Rivière” that reverberates for 10 minutes, with celestially synthesized voices giving an electronic ethereal quality to “Coda”. Diodes and cathodes of meditation.
George W. Harris