Exclusive track premiere: Joel Shanahan’s “Staring Deep Into Nothing”

Portland-based producer Joel Shanahan, better known as Golden Donna, has just released “Staring Deep Into Nothing”, a new track from his ambitious upcoming ambient electronic album Frozen Clock Hovering on Ratskin Records. Shanahan’s newest release explores complex, esoteric rhythmic zones, electronic drones and otherworldly ambient spaces.

“Staring Deep Into Nothing” begins with a delicate, ping pong arpeggiator reminiscent of early electronic recordings. Soon, that ping meets the sound of a gentle wind, until a more aggressive repeating progression inserts itself with the swagger of intrusive thoughts. By the time the listener recognizes the now familiar sounds as a sort of soundtrack to states of discomfort and disquiet, Shanahan has perfectly portrayed the disembodiment of deep grief and the torture of cyclic rumination. 

The track’s constantly multiplying, increasingly chaotic arpeggiators are underscored by the occasional popping of some kind of unsynchronized low end grit, and eventually, the oscillating synth notes fuse into an overwhelming clanging that demands to be understood as both melody and noise. The padded synths allow the listener to sink into a meditative state of uncomfortable acceptance, much like some undetermined midpoint of a monstrous and insatiable grieving process. 

“’Frozen Clock Hovering’ was simultaneously an attempt to seek comfort through creation, as well as raise the question— ‘When will this all end?’” states Shanahan. 

“Musically, this work was inspired by early intersections of jazz and electronic music. From an emotional standpoint, this collection was created in the shadow of lingering pain, trauma, and general futility in tandem with the heartbreak of a failing and now finished relationship with someone I was very in love with,” Shanahan explains. “It sits in a contemplative purgatory, as I try to figure out how to scale its towering walls and pull myself out.”

Frozen Clock Hovering is a masterpiece both sonically and conceptually, addressing past wounds while moving artistically forward, bravely voicing both the sounds of collective trauma and the messy, secret spirals of individual despair. The album releases September 4, 2020, and while the first edition sold out as pre-orders, the second edition will be available as a box set of two sixty-minute cassettes and as digital downloads.


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