Golden Town is a bewildering collection of sound pieces, one man's sonic journey through a series of waking dreams. This highly personal reckoning with the multidimensional depths of trance states finds expression in haunting microtonal soundscapes, hypnotic pattern layers, and other-worldly textures of exquisite beauty.
Listening to the tracks as a single hearing with headphones is highly advised.
from 7-page liner notes (pdf included in download):
“The fourteen individual pieces that comprise Golden Town are intended to stand on their own as individual works, but they are also meant to represent a larger, single-standing work. Like the formative experiences I had as a child, Golden Town came from an inner world where unoccupied places are best taken alone. As such, I find it to be a music that seems to work to its fullest potential in headphones, as it is a music that tends to resist integration in open-air environments and is lost altogether in the company of other sounds and distractions. I remember recording at my mother's house in Northboro, Massachusetts when I was still a teenager and looking out the window and watching the wind turn the leaves and the grass bright-side up, and in the isolation of my headphones I knew that someday I wanted my music to know something of that too.” --DS
"A big part of Golden Town’s success is its refusal to cooperate. The album defies expectation or categorisation by shifting between wildly different aesthetic and emotional positions with little sense of narrative. There are almost no clear melodies or pulses to give a foothold in the abstraction. Though this makes for a difficult listen, it also feels incredibly authentic...." - Cyclic Defrost
"Daniel Stearns's CD...has been played with some intensity in my studio for a few months now. People who know me or read this blog know that I don't take recordings lightly, sometimes taking great lengths to avoid the medium, but Golden Town is such a striking (at turns alien, challenging, then almost familiar, almost easy) listening experience, and one made very much for the recorded media, that I've wanted to share some words about it, but it is precisely this knot of vision/sound/word problems that has kept me back....
...Stearns is a real independent, a virtuoso improvising musician (fretted strings in particular) with a microtonal bent, and is anything but an academic composer (although I happen to have become aware of him and his music initially through some rigorous work he had done in the theory of intonation). There is a cultivated and diffident roughness to this music, with plenty of distortion and artifacts. I honestly don't know how he puts this music together, how much is planned, how much is spontaneous, or how much is hand-and-ears-on audio bricolage, and I am very curious to know more about his tools and techniques, but maybe it's enough just to recognize that these are very much recording studio products, using the distortion and artifacts and transformational opportunities of the recorded medium to frame and reinforce a music with dream-like qualities. And this: I honestly don't know what Stearns's vision in Golden Town is about, but the presence of a vision is clear. For all the associations in his notes, Stearns keeps things cryptic and elusive, and that seems to me to be a strength here, because all the private and disturbing elements that do come across suggest that I ought not be so sure that I would even want to know what it's all about. But I do know that there is a way of listening, just letting it intrude into your own waking dreams, that I find well worth the while."
- Renewable Music
"You are inside Stearns' head mostly. There is for sure no trace of the obligation of making something obvious to all minds exposed to it or to explore new technologies for the sake of technologies, none of the overheard explanations about justifications of sound installations in museums made for political reasons. Dan Stearns is a dreamer, not a music student that needs good grades or a flashy searcher who needs new toys all the time to impress his friends and new comers. He does not create music to satisfy expectations from the outside world..."
- Vincent Bergeron