Featured, Reviews

When Will This All End?: Joel Shanahan’s ‘Frozen Clock Hovering’

Anticipation. Static atmospheres. Brightening tones,  percussive indulgences, and pleasant strolls through synthscape forests. 

Sound is subjective and hypnotic. Through frequency, we resonate. 

Our minds can become foggy labyrinths where we wander endlessly, unaware of any exit or detour. A maze where we come face to face with our own mirrored images. 

Art helps us realize another’s perspective. When we listen to a composition, view a painting, or watch a ballet performance, we’re getting a look into someone else’s personal labyrinth. Again, and again. You watch them wander, like yourself. 

You wonder if anyone actually knows what they’re doing. You wonder if anyone else questions our state of existence. You wonder if anyone else experiences pain. 

You’ll ask, “When will this all end?”

Is there even an ending?

Joel Shanahan (performing as Golden Donna)
Photo: https://www.last.fm/user/kristoferthorir

Portland-based Joel Shanahan raises these brilliant questions with his genreless record, “Frozen Clock Hovering” released in 2020 on Ratskin Records. Mixing aspects of ambient-electronica, jazz, house, and more, the record creates its own dialogue, giving you a glimpse into the world of nothingness. 

“‘Frozen Clock Hovering’ was simultaneously an attempt to seek comfort through creation, as well as raise the question- ‘When will this all end?’” says Shanahan (Golden Donna/Auscultation). 

Highlighting the menacing curiosity of humanity, the record keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout its entirety. The abrupt changes in melody emphasize the aspect of not knowing, or the unknown. You listen with uncertainty, buckle in for the ride, and hope you make it to your destination. 

In the case of “Frozen Clock Hovering”, you might even fly there.

Artwork: Malocculsion

Time is unrealized in Joel Shanahan’s realm of meditative electronica and suddenly, all becomes a seemingly apparent illusion. A piece of music built to encourage deep listening, “Frozen Clock Hovering” exists both in solitude and in the subconscious. 

The textures of “Laurelhurst” destroy expectations by barreling into sections and transitioning into pockets of unique melodic drones. The release includes a remix of this track, done by Golden Donna. 

“Follow” is a haunting track, with bouncing bass lines and beautiful organ-like synths. The drum patterns become reminiscent of jungle beats with a darker twist. 

“Stabilizer” takes you on a journey through the cosmos, while “Staring Deep Into Nothing” catapults you into the void. Complied so nicely, and undeniably charming, this really is a record that is worth listening through in its entirety. 

“Floating Figure Sleeps Alone” is back with the static, which becomes a staple throughout. A great touch to the texture of each track, it morphs the listener deeper into a state of meditative thought. Highly recommended, worth closing your eyes to.

“Muzzle” and “Better” are a bit more punchy, with silky, bright key sounds. However, every song on the “Frozen Clock Hovering” still consistently contains a mysterious undertone. There is an omnipotent energy here; an underlying source of everything.

The title track achieves this aura well, contributing to the storyline of what will turn into “Honesty”, the last song on the record. As both a bright and emotional outro, and a conclusion to a mystical listening experience, the song finishes as my personal favorite. 

Here is the ending. Of this record, that is. 

Our journey of reflection is infinite. 

You can stream and buy “Frozen Clock Hovering” on Bandcamp.

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