Chilly and warm, heavy and light, Asa Osborne's third Zomes LP (two-thirds of which was originally released as a limited-edition, bright red cassette in 2010) explores similarly monochromatic, even more intensely minimalistic terrain than his first two. Whereas Zomes and Earth Grid featured Osborne's grainy cassette-recorded Casio ruminations split up into short, discrete "songs," each with its own (if overwhelmingly similar-sounding) musical idea, Improvisations is broken up into three lengthy pieces -- 15, ten, and eight minutes, respectively -- none of which offers any particular harmonic/rhythmic/melodic ideas at all, to speak of. Each is basically an extended drone, billowing in intensity but otherwise static; adorned with layers of swirling, amorphous, fluidly meandering keyboard squigglings that are intermittently more active or more placid, but always equally static in harmonic terms. The results can be diffuse and ghostly or more knotty and primordial, but the overall effect is generally lulling and meditative, if slightly less so on the third, briefest piece ("No. 3"), which stands most apart from the others for its somewhat harsher, grittier sound (closer to that of the earlier albums) and a denser harmonic texture to its drone. Perhaps less wholly striking and distinctive than Zomes' more rhythmic and song-oriented work, Improvisations is probably easier to enjoy, with the extended format offering a more broadly sympathetic palette for Osborne's forbiddingly austere aesthetic.
by K. Ross Hoffman