Under the project name of SELVEDGE, Kansas-based Chance Dibben released the album ‘BLOOM IN RUST’ via RTR in October. The album appeared in Bandcamp’s Experimental Music monthly rundown for November and received an honourable mention in the Post Ambient Lux best ambient of 2020 list. Chance’s work as SELVEDGE explores the darker tones of ambient and drone, incorporating distortion, dissonance, and metallic percussive sounds to great effect.
In this feature, Chance discusses early introductions to ambient music, inspiration and approaches to creating new music, and the very physical sensation of the cassette. Chance also provides a wealth of listening recommendations throughout this instalment of The Maker.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
In the summer of 2008, I worked a very odd job, travelling through the southern US, taking and selling photos of Little League Baseball. This meant a lot of time standing on a baseball diamond. I would download records to listen to on my MP3 player. At the time, there was a blog I read regularly (can’t remember the name) and it highlighted a lot of great older records with a more experimental or ambient bent. This was probably where I first got exposed to Windy & Carl, Autechre, Fuck Buttons, and the like. I remember that fall, back in college, working like two or three jobs at time while being a full-time student, sneaking naps wherever I could with ambient and drone records to lull me asleep. I listened to a lot of William Basinksi’s work at this time, a lot of Kranky records, and Belong’s full-length and EP. That Belong EP probably saved me more than I realize.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
Often it’s when I’ve finished something and I want to do something different—like if I’m in the finishing stages of a project, but I’m tinkering with the edges, so to speak, I’ll try to explore something different, just so I have different sounds around my ears to draw a contrast. This is how my discography so far as ended with a variety of styles. Day to day, I might be inspired by an artist’s new (or old) release, and hear something that I want to try, or they might remind of an aspect I’ve played with but haven’t really committed to.
How do you approach working on a new release?
Continuing from the last answer, it’s usually once I’ve assembled something else that I think is close to done and want to go a different direction or try a different technique. I like to work a lot, just the feeling of having my hands on something is important, keeps me stimulated, even if that never develops into a releasable project. So I’ll make a perpendicular turn (for me at least) and see what happens. Usually it starts with, oh this track and another one might make a nice single, okay I’ve got a few more, maybe this an EP, and then maybe I’ll keep exploring and have a record. Or maybe I’ll have some sounds files to chunk later. I operate on the edict of “write fast, edit slow.”
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
dreamcrusher’s Panopticon! Is probably my favourite record of the year. Blown out, clipped, noisy experimental music that really pushes the edge of what the ear can take while remaining beautiful, melodic, pulsing, and invigorating. I’m really fond of [Overtures] by Marc Ertel, released through Past Inside The Present. Great ambient / drone record, tinged with noise. Sotto Le Stelle by Patricia Wolf has been a balm in a hard year. KMRU has been an inspiration and he released three (three!) spectacular records this year, Peel (on Editions Mego), Opaquer (on Dagoretti Records), and Jar (on Seil Records).
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
I like that a tape is itself a machine – a machine that needs power sure – but a machine, nonetheless. There’s also an aspect of cassettes that, because they are different, and often used as cheap way to get music out (in the recent past anyway, I know production costs have gone way up) that there’s a lack of pressure, if that makes sense. You can go a little wilder. Physically, I think tapes are beautiful and they have a weight in your hand that makes you go, what inside of here.