Danny Clay's and Greg Gorlen's "Birch" is a collection of eight pieces that build heavily upon looped sounds – piano passages, machinelike rumbles, noises of defective analogue tape, scratches and dust. While some of these recordings are coated in layers of distortion, others are arranged with a distinctive amount of reverb and hall. In these pieces piano loops can be heard that seem distant as though they were only playing for themselves, thoughtless about any accidental listener who might be near.
"Birch" is lo-fi in nature, with high-pitched tape-hiss, sudden rattles and aging cassette-material adding to an often melancholic atmosphere. The noticeable repetition within each part of this recording is thereby far from begin stale or monotonous; it seemingly slows time, concentrated on only a couple of notes which move through wide rooms, disappear and then slowly come back. It is because of this repetition that "Birch" as a whole feels like a circle with no explicit beginning or end. Instead it is meant to be played over and over again, like those piano-loops that would have gone on forever if the tape had not been stopped.
Non-notebook-speakers are recommended.
Review in Vital Weekly #1072:
Their thirty minute tape has eight pieces, which all seem to be using a great number of loops; or rather each piece is built out of a few loops of sounds that could be a from a piano, but just as easily a machine, a clock work or such like. But sprinkled on top of those loops there is the heavy use of sound effects, next to delay and reverb, also a fair bit of distortion. All of this makes that these pieces sound like they were recorded in a room, next door, with a rather cheap microphone, gain all open and captured on a cassette, but all of this at least thirty years ago, and all this time the tape was not in a plastic box, but in a dust filled basement (or attic) and then transferred to a new, fresh cassette, most like Ferro quality. All of this is of course something I made up, but it is to tell you that there is a distinct lo-fi atmosphere about these eight pieces. In general with an ambient feel buy also, at times, with the best of noise intentions.
Review by Mike Haley (TabsOut):
Last in line is “Birch”, a C30 effort from Danny Clay & Greg Gorlan that follows their “Brittle” tape released by Canti Magnetici in 2016 and several other get together’s prior. Gorlan, who has been known to mangle a tape or two (see: Vibrating Garbage, Black Thread, etc) and Clay churn piano melodies into a thick static paste. Notes swirl, rerun, and often go adrift in a sea of hiss. Depending on how you approach it, “Birch” can be a depressant cruise or a momentary escape. It really depends on what elements you focus on. Either way, it is a solid tape.