Nicholas Szczepanik Nicholas SzczepanikPlease Stop Loving Me
Were we to take a close look at Nicholas Szczepanik's CV, we would find a huge number of releases (from 2007 until today) preceding “Please Stop Loving Me”. In a way, it’s his most accessible album for an audience inexperienced in matters of self-releasing on CD-R and militant ambient. Accordingly, Streamline is releasing it; the experimental sub-label taken over by Drag City, who now boasts artists such as Jim O’Rourke and William Basinski. Originally from Washington D.C. (and now living in Chicago), Szczepanik has been operating on the borders of drone – but has recently been considering leaving the deepest underground, embellishing the genre that insists upon one sole note prolonged in space for eternity. Sweetness can be found – perhaps - in the title (openly confessional, or at least lyrically), in the inner sleeve photography and on the cardboard of the outer sleeve, which is as immaculate and serene as the audio content. Yet admirably, Nicholas Szczepanik has hit the nail of emotion on the head, without losing his value on the experimental market.
It's like this: one track, 47 minutes, one synth note (with the texture of a church organ) that freely floats in a space of indiscernible limits, which could be limbo or a womb, smothered in echoing foam and unfolding patiently. After a timid beginning comes a central phase of over 20 minutes- in which the drone goes up and materialises as a ray of light - followed by the end part where the music, little by little, goes quiet, in a descent that seems never-ending. “Please Stop Loving Me” has moments of desperation and collapse, but also of ecclesiastic solemnity. It's that ability to transmit different sensations, with the tiniest changes the music (something like an in utero experience) that makes Szczepanik one of the best drone-makers of his generation. You can hear the influence of Tim Hecker’s “Radio Amor”, but also of Brian Eno’s “ An Ending (Ascent)” - without the melodic baroqueness and with more sentimental self-control.
The only doubt “Please Stop Loving Me” could generate is the technique. How does Szczepanik reach this level of suspension? The use of the organ note is decisive, it adds a necessary spiritual nuance, but the meticulous and calm way he develops the atmospheric sound is reminiscent of the stretching technique (slowing down a composition with about 800%, in order to reach an amniotic state) that was briefly fashionable last year, when Shamantis used it to treat a Justin Bieber track. But whether he uses stretching or a refinement of the drone technique to reactivate his floating ambient, the result doesn't change: this record is like getting inside a bubble and drifting away. Furthermore, those 47 minutes of abandonment and disconnection from the world are so powerful that nothing else matters – not the what, nor the how, nor the why.