Pilled Up on a Couple of Doves is the debut full-length by PDP III, who fell into alignment in December of 2018 amid a handful of immersive and improvisatory recording sessions held at Gary’s Electric Studio in Brooklyn, New York. The trio is a collaboration between composer/producer Britton Powell and two Berlin-based artists, the British composer/cellist Lucy Railton and the electronic artist Brian Leeds (Huerco S).
At the outset of these sessions Powell presented a series of compositional sketches anchored around multi-tracked electronics and acoustic percussion. These concepts were then used as the framework for collective improvisation, with the musicians working on instinct and layering as many as eight separate takes across a track. A portion of the record also reflects moments that are purely spontaneous – in-the-moment invention with Railton on electronics and cello and Powell and Leeds working on laptop computers.
The composition process involved little in the way of overt instruction, instead favoring discussion on more abstract notions of feel and energy. As a result, the final product was a bit surprising to all involved. “I don’t think the three of us had any idea how heavy and physical this thing was going to feel,” reflects Powell.
Subsequently reduced, edited, and collaged by Powell over the next two years, Pilled Up on a Couple of Doves presents a succession of alien moods. Gauzy textures are buoyed by extreme low end pressure. Serene industrial hum illuminates the rhythmic beating of waveforms. The sounds frequently evoke opposing emotions -- tenderness and anxiety, claustrophobia and transcendence.
The record culminates in 20-minute closer “49 Days,” where gradually unfurling textures for cello and electronics mirror the overtones of a ringing gong. It’s unsettling, but deeply meditative. A map of liminal space. Music to get lost to. “One thing that’s important in relation to my work with music is to access a place outside of physical space,” says Powell. “To pursue music as a tool to reach a place outside of physical existence.”