The origin of this release speaks to both the personal and transcendent nature at the heart of Ben Chasny's work, in ways. Nightly Trembling first surfaced in a run of 30 copies in 1999 with a goal "to create a web of consciousness," as the Time-Lag label put it years later. Perhaps a bit too third eye for some, but regardless of one's beliefs and how Chasny's might or might not square with them, Nightly Trembling is an entrancing listen, reissued in 2003 by Time-Lag as a companion piece with For Octavio Paz. The side-long "Redefinitions of Being (Featuring Creation Aspects Fire, Air, Water)" easily ranks as one of Chasny's finest creations, drawing as it does on everything from John Fahey's entranced guitar explorations to mantra-like chants and an air of pagan, mystic moods. His knack for being his own best accompaniment -- everything was recorded by him on four-track cassette -- is on display throughout, right to the droning, mysterious ending as gentle guitar noise and soft percussion seem to play against each other as in a live setting. Side two consists of a "reprise" of "Creation Aspect Fire" from the other side, though it's no mere replaying of the same -- here the chanted vocals sound distorted and pitched higher, a weird whispered rite that captures the same obsessive, strange spirit Chasny so often brings to his live performances. The overlay of acoustic and electric guitar parts as well as more insistent percussion increase the wired, driving focus of the song before it shifts into a full-on electronic head-nod zoneout that's as unnerving as it is beautiful, then into a final acoustic coda. "Creation Aspect Earth" continues the blend of acid folk strumming, unearthly vocals, and feedback freakout, with the latter taking over to end the album on a frenetic, over the top note.
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