Donato Wharton’s new piece of music can be best described with words like subtle, spare, tacit. This Cardiff-born artist is artistically more focused on production for theatre and sound designing and therefore he comes just rarely with his own solo material. If you expect theatric grotesque or cinematic landscape, A White Rainbow Spanning The Dark will surprise you. Warton’s new EP doesn’t reflect his day job and presents the artist in more experimental position. The main assets he plays with and tests is long silence versus short noise, melody against atonality, vast space in contrast with narrowness.
Although these contrasts seem like grand themes, he approaches these subconscious theses of A White Rainbow Spanning The Dark in a minimalist manner. These experiments take just twenty minutes and are performed on acoustic guitar backed by field recording while Wharton plays with frequencies, sound amplitudes and echoes reached by classical analogue way of reverberation.
Minimalism and spareness provide A White Rainbow with strangely intimate feeling. Mostly the guitar parts are soothingly warm and so close to the microphone that the listener feels as if he was standing inside of Warton’s guitar. Also, the layers of background noises, guitar plucks and unexpected rushes of high frequencies generate additional mass of resonance that sounds as a solid, indivisible substance.
Still, the most effective songs are those with the greater dose of Wharton’s tender guitar. Ink Mountains is possibly the most complex composition using guitar not just for playing the basic harmonies and creating fluid melody; here Wharton experiments with the string itself, all the colours and shades it posses. Although it isn’t an exploration of guitar’s possibilities, Ink Mountain provides interesting difference to the ambient nature of this EP’s rest.
A White Rainbow Spanning The Dark is often more abstract than the above-mentioned experiment with layers of unidentifiable sound creating pulsating and calming ambiance. A Thousand Miles Of Grass uses few tones of guitar for reaching such omnipresent tranquility, while closing Mind Like a Snow Cloud is even absent of it and features just this undefinable mass of subtle tones and uneasily vast space of nothingness.
All in all, A White Rainbow Spanning The Dark is an interesting experiment, but too often too flat with no evolution. Ideas appear and vanish unexpectedly without reaching some kind of importance or higher sense. Three minutes are not enough for the evolving of Wharton’s ideas as so this EP sounds too tame, almost plain. On the other side, the warm and calm nature of this album, along with Wharton’s know-how in using the right amount of layers create a decent contribution to Serein’s special vinyls collection. Donato Wharton's EP follows Colorlist's one with Nest and Hauschka contributing to Seasons 2011's project in the coming months.