Album Review

Nicholas Szczepanik – Not Knowing (Desire Path, 2014)

nicholas szczepanik - not knowing album cover
Nicholas Szczepanik – Not Knowing (excerpt) (Desire Path)

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A few years ago, Nicholas Szczepanik put out a subscription series of 12 mini-CDs called Ante Algo Azul where he “experimented” on different styles & sounds. The first release from that series was Not Knowing (For Eliane Radigue). This new release on Desire Path takes the original 18:00 piece and expands & elaborates on it creating a full 53 minute record of the most perfect drone you’ll ever hear. The first part of “Not Knowing” is the same as the original (as far as I can tell), which is to say it’s a super minimal pulsing that sounds like a comatose heartbeat. And then shit gets fucking glorious, softly, slowly shifting gears to an angelic harmony that could tear down the walls between warring nations with everyone embracing their newfound family, swirling cascading strings that fill your heart with the joys & pains of life, strongly reminding me of Szczepanik’s magnum opus Please Stop Loving Me. The contrast on Not Knowing, gracefully moving back & forth between long form minimalism and refined euphoria, is something I haven’t heard Szczepanik do yet, and he’s already proved himself a fucking master. The highs are incredibly high, tearful & magnificent, glowing & intricate, and the lows are delicately hypnotic, with a precision in tonality that’s breathtaking. This is absolute fucking perfection. This has everything I ask for in a drone record, and more. As much as I love Please Stop Loving Me (#1 drone record of 2011 yo), I can easily say Not Knowing is hands down a more mature, accomplished, and impressive fucking record. I have a hard time imagining Szczepanik ever topping this.

Also, you might be thinking that since Not Knowing is one long track, what the fuck is Desire Path, the label who’s literally 7 for 7 on their releases and exclusively works with vinyl, doing releasing this? They started the Tangents series, where they’ll release CDs of long form music that can’t (shouldn’t) be on vinyl. And this is the debut release in that series, strictly limited to 500, but given the deluxe treatment as Desire Path always does.

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