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Four Reviews

“Four (54'46") is the 2nd solo album by electronic musician Dwight Ashley. Featuring 11 hymns to the worldly religion of the mind, Ashley's frost-bound expressionism is both familiar and new. The album's vast surround conveys a restless enormity. Ashley's work on Four is intentionally unsettling, calling attention to itself and the dignity of its "otherness". It's icy (but not inhibited), frigid (as in penetrating) and somewhat self-conscious as at more than one juncture the listener is challenged, dared, to follow on. His work is smooth, concentrating more on texture, tone and atmosphere than with narrative. There are no overt rhythms to count or melodies to grasp. Four is experienced on a more cerebral level. This work may seem remote, but Ashley's presence is felt throughout. At certain points he can be noticed nudging the quiet music along, while elsewhere he is found trying to contain the torrential flow of converging harmonies and conflicting timbres. The world of form is infinite. Four is an endeavor into tone, elegance and the complexity of intentions. Ashley puts into sound a vastness that only the imagination can contain.”

— Chuck van Zyl
13 January 2005
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“This release from 2004 features 55 minutes of delicate ambience.

Guitars are subjected to an infinite sustain, then allowed to expand into monumentally tenuous clouds of fragile sound. These elusive airs are immersed in electronic harmonics that are equally delicate, yet the combination seemed to empower the music rather than increase its emptiness. The minimalism seethes with subtle verve and fastidious emotion, generating a comfortable environment that frees the listener of tension and urges them to inner focus.

Not unlike a skyscape filled with majestically lit clouds, this music is idyllic yet compelling. Mellow drones float with grace, peppered by sighing textures that puncture the mix without intruding on the flow. Pale illumination pulses with lighter embellishment, producing a field of white on white that possesses deceptive depth and detail.

As cited in Ashley's liner notes, the music on "Four" is deeply influenced by Terje Rypdal's "After the Rain" and Gavin Bryars' "After the Requiem". These roots are more than a comparison, they are a jumping off point, from which Ashley has launched brazenly into a region of ethereal atmospherics wrought with despair that evolves into vibrant optimism.”

— Matt Howarth
Sonic Curiosity
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