Durbē is an audio document of the final date of Canadian composer/vocalist Ian William Craig's first tour, which took place at the Durbē Lutheran Church in Latvia. As with his studio recordings, the classically trained singer processes his arrestingly powerful vocals through a maze of broken tape machines and electronics, constructing ghostly loops of decaying, curdled cries and warbles. In concert, however, he goes a lot further, sometimes stretching his hypnotic compositions past the 20-minute mark, seemingly getting lost in their lulling repetitions. "Requiem for Al Purdy" begins the set, starting out with sparse vocals, which are gradually looped and manipulated, eventually forming a choir of mangled voices that float in midair and are abruptly cut off and repeated. As they become grander, a heavenly synth drone joins them, while Craig continually adds additional layers of vocals on top. "On the Reach of Explanations" (originally from the revelatory A Turn of Breath) constructs a rich wave of vocal harmonies, eventually fading off into caked layers of scratchy tape fuzz. "The Nearness" is a much longer, more wringed-out rendition of the piece from Craig's astounding 2016 album, Centres, starting out with a submerged loop of gated tape smudge before clear yet distant vocals float on the surface. Eventually synths take over, becoming buzzier and more aggressive, and a jarring tape pause which sounds like a loud kiss is looped into the mix. Another Centres track, the much shorter and more stripped-down "Arrive, Arrive," ends the album, showcasing Craig's vulnerable, untreated vocals over plaintive keyboards. The release is a fascinating, insightful glimpse into the artist's creative process, demonstrating how he works his magic in real time, as well as producing truly gorgeous, unique music.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson