Dissolve's first album is perhaps to be expected coming from Roy Montgomery, but even so, the combination of two guitarists and even more atmospheres than on Montgomery's solo work makes the end results grand to behold. Featuring clipped, abbreviated vocals on a number of tracks -- something which wouldn't otherwise occur again in the joint work of Montgomery and Chris Heaphy, at least for a few years -- That That Is is an often involving effort that works as both unobtrusive background music and upfront, emotionally gripping material. It's the same dual level of achievement that Montgomery achieves on his own, showing his partnership with Heaphy is perhaps more an extension of his own particular gifts instead of an equal partnership per se. Certainly the ringing digital echoes and extended combinations of solo and lead melody which signify his work similarly just about say it all here, with the layering and additional playing from Heaphy effortlessly blending into the overall mood. Montgomery's instantly recognizable vocals are dry but somehow suit the music perfectly. They contribute well to the effect of songs like "Dissong" and the quite excellent "Blurred," his quietly declamatory approach echoing into the distance over a low, steady pulse and the type of dreamy, romantic guitar playing not heard since the prime days of Echo and the Bunnymen. In the end, though, it are the full instrumentals which let the two fully get a chance to shine. "3 Films" is especially fine, with its intertwined chimes and rough snarls suddenly shifting into a calmer midsection before a grand climax, steadily plucked notes, and a quietly epic shimmer in the background feeling indeed like the end to some striking film. Other highlights include the low-key calm into soft energy of "Encounter" and the processed squalls and waves of the brief "STPP," which ends the album.
That That Is...Is (Not) Review
by Ned Raggett