With their collective experience with groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Growing, David Bryant and Kevin Doria are no strangers to creating carefully crafted sonic landscapes. On Shortwave Nights, the full-length debut of their recording project Hiss Tracts, the pair weave together field recordings and an array of acoustic and electronic instruments into a stunning collection of drifting, ambient soundscapes. While these kinds of experimental records can often come across as distant and detached, there's something warm and inviting about Shortwave Nights. Candid recordings like "Drake Motel/9 Gold Cadillacs," where we hear an old man lament "my daddy spent millions of dollars in 1977 trying to buy a friend and he died without one," create pathos, connecting the listener to the work by appealing to their humanity rather than their intellect. On "Ahhh-weee Dictaphone," a tape recording is manipulated again and again, shifting from a harsh crackle to a kind of sing-songy hum before giving way to the soothing drone of "Test Recording at Trembling City." In a way, moments like this feel like a peek behind the curtain, and while it's ostensibly just 40 seconds of someone fussing with a tape recorder, it shows that, in an age of overly processed music, the sounds you're hearing have been assembled with care by two people. While Shortwave Nights might not be for everyone, Hiss Tracts have made an album of experimental music that feels like it was made to engage rather than alienate, casting aside inscrutability to create something surprisingly fragile and soulful.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney