Rainbows in the Dark: Aaron Turner and Jon Mueller — “Now That You’ve Found It”

Aaaah, it feels good to be back at my old station.  While this year has been an absolutely incredible year for metal, I guess I’m taking a page out of my sibling’s book and diving more into the non-metal territory recently.  Even if that wasn’t the case, though, any project with Aaron Turner’s name on it is enough to get my attention, and when he is collaborating with Jon Mueller (whose most recent solo release I had the absolute pleasure of reviewing) you *know* things are going to get weird.  On Now That You’ve Found It, weird is certainly one way of putting it.

Both prolific in solo releases as well as parts of other projects, Turner and Mueller each have a resume that puts almost everyone except themselves to shame.  Chances are high you don’t need to be introduced to Turner at this point, but if you haven’t dabbled with Mueller’s solo percussion work or anything by Volcano Choir or Collections of Colonies of Bees, fix that now.  If you do know, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that two musicians who are renowned for pushing the boundaries of their instruments, genre, music and maybe even sound in general are working together.  Following up last year’s In The Falls EP, Now That You’ve Found It stretches out and pushes further into the depths of dreams and imagination, quite literally.  The album began life as an actual dream that Mueller had of him and Turner performing in concert but barely playing any notes.  “…the energy of the performance was very intense,” Mueller explains, “like something could blow at any moment.  I woke up wanting to recreate that, and somehow, I think we did.”  I don’t know that I can think of any better way to summarize what Now That You’ve Found It sounds like.  The album blends together sparse guitar work and keyboards as well as ambient noise and spine-chilling vocalizations with Mueller’s unmistakable, wholly unique percussion work (much more bells, chimes and singing bowls than drums and cymbals) in a way that feels like nothing and everything all at once.

Now That You’ve Found It is a collaboration unlike anything that you might think of when you think of two artists collaborating with each other.  There is tension in the way that the pieces don’t always fit together nicely and neatly, almost as if the two are challenging each other.  It makes for less of a united front and more of a push and pull between Turner’s guitar work, which sounds like anything other than a guitar and Mueller’s percussion.  In fact, there is little to nothing of what I would call “conventional” music on Now That You’ve Found It.  This is an album whose sounds and textures are as dreamlike as its origins, to the point where listening to it feels like shifting into unreality.  From the chimes and distorted chanting that opens “The Yellow Bath” to the whining and thrumming of ambient noise that closes “Hatched,” Now That You’ve Found It is an exercise in restraint as much as it is creativity.  Silence and space take the center stage here, but the idea that literally anything could be around the corner keeps you captivated and waiting for what comes next.  Yes, it is a strange listen, but I found myself really enjoying this album, and I think the highest compliment I can pay to it is that I can really and truly see this being a performance piece for a rapt audience.  Perhaps they’d be wondering if they were in fact hallucinating, but they’d be down for whatever happens regardless.

“Once we were in the room recording, it all felt much more real, for better or worse.  Reality became something to both work from and against,” says Mueller of the recording process.  The nature of reality and the divide between what’s a dream and what’s real is exceptionally blurred here, and while it might not be for everyone at the end of the day, if you’re looking for an album that really and truly sounds like nothing else out there, this is it and a half.

– Ian

Now That You’ve Found It is available now on American Dream Records.  For more information on Aaron Turner and Jon Mueller, visit their official websites.

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