[$9 // https://troyallenschafer.bandcamp.com/album/untitled-no-2]
Almost a year ago I reached out to the label Signal Dreams in hopes of reviewing a new record by Derek Rogers and when they sent me the download for it they included two other downloads which had Troy Schafer's "Untitled No. 1" in it. After listening to and reviewing "Untitled No. 1" I put Troy Schafer into this category of "Artists to Watch", which we don't officially have on the website here but perhaps one day I should make the spreadsheet public because I just knew that whenever Troy Schafer put on new music I was going to have to hear it. Interestingly enough as well, "Untitled No. 1" was released on vinyl and "Untitled No. 2" is on cassette. I wonder if "Untitled No. 3" will be a CD or some other media or simply go with one of the first two.
The music initially comes in like a cross between a soap opera and "The X-Files". Through the static bursts of sharpness it almost begins to feel like the music is laughing at me. As it becomes modem-esque it then changes over to more of a alien whirr quality. Soft tones come through like wind chimes and then there are sonar blips. It has a quietness to it that has you settled and relaxed and then a sharpness comes in loudly which is sure to give you that shock treatment, just to sort of startle you. The first time that I listen to music through I like to hear it as best as possible so I do, admittedly, mess with the volume as it is playing and in this instance turning it up when it got quiet backfired on me. But after my first listen, I tend to just let it go through at the same volume the whole time, which is something I need to work on doing every time.
A screaming can be heard in the distorted void and that in and of itself becomes enough of an image in your mind and a premise to go on which could create a film for you. A dying horn squeak can be heard and I assume it is in the same distorted space as it seems to be where sound goes to die. Modems sing and ring before we go back into the screaming and the first act of this side felt rather soft, somewhat putting you at ease, and then this part just not only woke you up from that rested state but seemed to rip you out of your seat and drag you directly to somewhere which you do not want to ever have to go. And, yes, I imagine people listening to music while seated like that old cassette ad by Maxell.
On the flip side we have static, trapped screams and a modem blast which does suggest we are picking up where we left off with Side A. Quieter screech whirrs comes out and then it is the sound of paper rustling with the wind screaming this time. There is a harsh loudness now and then the screams come through stronger than ever before. The sound of the wind tunnel comes out next along with some deep string synth. Horns come out in a dance way but only briefly and then we are right back to the wind and sharpness.
Harsh lightsabers continue the piece as there are softly spoken words hidden within as well. There are organs which remind me of the "Phantom of the Opera", yet in no other way does this music really make me think of that. By the end all we can hear are little mice squeals and whooshes and I'm not sure how our trip has been through what started as the distorted void during the second half of the first side, but considering how I feel about mice I must say it doesn't seem like we've been treated well by our new overlords (I have many cats for a reason)
For all of the ways that this can be taken and interpreted I think I enjoy the fact the most that it doesn't seem to have a happy ending for the story and that's okay because many stories don't have positive outcomes in real life. Sometimes people die and that's the end of it, you know. I'm so sick of movies making everything wrap up so nice and neatly when that is just not a reflection of reality. So enjoy this for the music that it is or the film of realism you can imagine in your own mind. Also, "Untitled No. 2" is kind of a title, is it not?