“This is patient, spacious, luminous, mature composition...”— The Wire
Not surprisingly from a duo whose name fuses the surnames of its members, it's impossible to tell who's doing what on this majestic hour-ling span of music. It's what Thomas Dimuzio call the Dimmer modus operandi: his live sampling rig and Joseph Hammer's vintage tape loop system recursively feed each other, both digging deep into a seedbed of sustained tones sourced from old keyboards.
It's divided into eight movements which follow each other without break. Both musicians are billed on the disc as playing loops, but it's hard to discern where they begin and end — there's no sense whatsoever of regularly repeating shapes until the final movement. This is patient, spacious, luminous, mature composition, a long way from the musicians' respective debuts back in the g(l)ory days of cassette underground — the jagged feedback of Dimuzio's 1989 Headlock and the glorious radio garbage plate of Hammer and fellow Los Angeles Free Music Society member Rick Potts's Dinosaur With Horns cassette six years before that. The pair's keyboard rig includes a Prophet 5 that once belonged to analogue synth pioneer Warner Jepson who died in September 2011, and to whose memory Ascent is dedicated. —Dan Warburton
Holy shit! This is a frightfully good piece of dark minimalism on par with Roland Kayn, Eliane Radigue, and the late period works from The Hafler Trio. Dimmer is the collaborative project between Bay Area experimentalist Thomas Dimuzio and LAFMS icon Joseph Hammer, who have toured together on a semi-regular basis up and down the West Coast for the past decade or so. The two previous Dimmer albums were collected and edited from the numerous live gigs, documenting the real-time electronic synthesis from Dimuzio coupled with Hammer's tape loop manipulations. As impressive as Dimmer has been live and on those edited live recordings, we were completely floored by Ascent - their first collaborative venture into the studio. Restricting their sources to vintage analogue gear, Dimuzio and Hammer generate swarms of harmonic drones that they in turn filter through the abstracting tools of choice. For Dimuzio, it's his gear-junkie arsenal of digital samplers and sequencers; for Hammer, it's the humble tape deck. On the first couple of tracks, Dimmer issues deep cosmic tones with strange / strangulated fibrillations from Hammer's tape tricks that elongate, expand, and collapse in accordance with a grand, if slightly sinister vision of miniaturized symphonies for the birth and death of the universe. Gasping drones billowing with toxic fumes stream rapidly out of blackened voids with Dimuzio and Hammer making prolonged descents into near-silence, before rocketing forward with another grandiose swell of ever darkening compaction of processed synth tones. Where the album begins in the shimmeringly majesty of a Klaus Schulze composition, it ends much closer to something monstrous and cavernous like Lustmord. This is easily the best we've heard from either of these two stalwarts of the California avant-garde! Limited to 300 copies.
Dimmer is the duo of Thomas Dimuzio and Joseph Hammer, both longtime figures within California experimental music. "Ascent" is their first studio album in over five years and let me tell you, the wait is well worth it. "Ascent" is sprawling in the best sense of the word. Over the course of an hour (divided into eight individual pieces), the duo create dense, synthetic webs that flit between glacial precision and encompassing warmth. Restricting themselves to vintage synthesizers and tape loops, Dimuzio and Hammer, time and time again, show their expertise in skill when it comes to composition. Each piece moves logically to the next, giving the album even greater cohesion and ensuring that the whole is greater than just the sum of its parts. At times this music feels oppressive, like it's a heavy weight pushing down on your chest. That element of claustrophobia works, though, and only heightens the release when Dimmer open things up into the sky. So much thought has been put into every detail of "Ascent" that it's impossible to hear it all on first listen, but that's what makes it better than most records like this. The dynamics are subtle, but far-reaching and the more you listen to it, the deeper you get. —Brad Rose
Shortly after its releasse Dimmer's Ascent was selected as new Rekkid of the Day at WFMU.