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I Hear Sparks: Kyle Bobby Dunn – Ways of Meaning

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Kyle Bobby Dunn returns with Ways of Meaning, an intelligently arranged, subtle release that follows up his A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn with compositions of a fragile, almost ghostly quality.

Sounds suspend in the air, like clouds, gliding almost motionlessly to the spaces where our dreams live. For some, the moments of unobtrusively and peacefully hanging about may prove trying on the patience. For others, though, there are deep rewards to be had when the layers are peeled back.

Ways of Meaning features shorter “songs” than A Young Person’s Guide, but the moments the Canadian composer creates are no less stunning and elegant.

Using a selection of instruments including guitar, organ, strings, and a laptop (yes, a laptop is a damn fine instrument in the hands of this man), Dunn creates a series of six soundscapes that blend in to each other seamlessly.

Ways of Meaning opens with “Dropping Sandwiches (In Chester Lake),” a piece of ambient that slowly but assuredly coaxes out a gentle melody. It is an engrossing, enveloping work. “Statuit” is like the next step up the stairs from the album opener. It pushes the cloudlike atmosphere up a level or two, but it still moves with the sort of grace and slowness Dunn fans know and love.

Ways of Meaning is a recording of profound peacefulness and contentment, but it is not sleepy. There are moments of waking, of greeting the day with hope and joy. “Canyon Meadows,” for instance, opens with what could be a throng of morning church bells. The voluminous sound is beautiful and exhilarating, playing perfectly from the peaceful scope created in the record’s first two numbers.

The most ambitious piece is “Movement for the Completely Fucked,” a wide epic of rising and falling atmosphere. The track spins on for over 14 minutes, but it settles in on the listener like a feeling of totality. Time has no import.

Kyle Bobby Dunn’s Ways of Meaning is a record of restraint and mood, but it’s also a record of life. There are those who consider this brand of music to be dull, for certain, but there’s nothing at all prosaic about the study of sound and space that this fine musician partakes in. Better still, he takes us along for the expedition.


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