Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

In Review: Scott Gordon - Relief Tours

Label: Esk


Scott Gordon’s Relief Tours is an experiment with improvisational guitar and an adapted piano-harp that was salvaged from his brother's garage. This is good to know as the record sounds universes beyond a simple guitar and piano experiment. The appropriately titled ‘Benthic Salvage’ wastes no time in transporting the listener to exotic and hostile landscapes which are suggested in equal measure by the filmic qualities of the music but also song titles such as ‘Wetland Forms’, ‘Sea Weather’ and ‘Island Dissolve’. Song titles can seem and be so important to instrumental music, as opposed to more lyrically driven songs; they have the potential to set the context for a record and help the listener to more easily access the conceptual framework attached to a piece of music. It’s an idea that was figured out early in the ambient/experimental genre-sphere - if Music For Airports had been called Music for Funerals, it would have been interpreted very differently. I think it would work well at a funeral (that’s NOT a hint).

Working with a restricted palette, Relief Tours operates in a focussed landscape that connects symbiotically with themes of water, earth and wind. It’s essentially an atonal record but feels tied to depicting the brutality and fervency of the natural world. You could file it next to Yasuo Sugibayashi’s Mask Of The Imperial Family due to its form and melodic disposition yet its scope operates through a wider panoramic lens (as opposed to the more matter of fact presentation of Sugibayashi’s works). Gordon’s ability to summon natural forms in the mind's eye is more reminiscent of Hour House’s approach to ambient landscapes - strange, raw and in flux. Relief Tours’ power and grace present an objective view of nature that operates independently of a human's consciousness. Subsequently, there’s no Mother in nature or god in the skies and in this, Scott Gordon has made something to witness, experience and meditate on but it will carry on without you, regardless. AG