Ventil – V002 – 1st May 2015
This one’s taken a while to reach me, but I’m pleased it finally has. Decomposition I-III is a collaborative work between Peter Kutin and Florian Kidlinger which is designed to ‘lead the listener through three territories antagonistic to human life,’ Antagonism is something of a dominant theme here: Decomposition I-III is an album based on field recordings, which simultaneously sets out to ‘leave the now moribund category of “field recordings” behind’. Antagonistic but perhaps justified: how many more albums of birdsong and marketplaces, rippling tides and passing cars does the world really need in order to be brought into closer proximity with a sense of environment?
Decomposition I-III takes unusual locations – to say the least – and scrutinises them from the most oblique and often microscopic perspectives. And when an object – or a sound – is viewed from microscopically close range, the viewer’s perspective is altered. Something small or quiet becomes immense and excruciatingly loud. And so, Decomposition I-III is presented as an album which is ‘radical and merciless, estranged and aggressive yet still poetic… a bizarre narration.’ If the notion of an albums based on field recordings being ‘radical’ or ‘merciless’, let alone ‘aggressive’ seems a bit far out, you should probably listen to this before passing judgement.
‘Absence’ evokes the experience of standing on top of a mountain in a gale. The wind roars and buffets. Corrugated metal roofs bend and creak and scrape and clatter. Demons howl and shriek in the darkness as half-tunes warp and twist out of shape. The tempest abates, leaving a dull rumble and extraneous clanks which reverberate ominously. The origin of these sounds? The internal mechanisms of a telescope during the calibration process. All of a sudden, a full-on white noise roar blasts out: the Pacific Ocean, in full force. From within the barrelling wall of noise, layers of sound and other incidentals filter through.
‘Introspections’ represents a change of tone, but again takes an unusual slat on its utilisation of sound. The harshness of winter conditions is magnified in snow-blinding sharpness at the start, as the crunch of boots trudging through thick, ice-crusted snow. The footsteps halt, and only the sound of dripping water in a cave and a dull, distant roar hangs heavy in the dank atmosphere. Slowly, the sounds shift, a ringing hum and the crackle of broken glass, or ice, contrast starkly with one another. The sinister tones are uncomfortable and unsettling.
‘Illusion’ is so quiet at first as to be barely present, before a mid-range hum thuds in, a thick, abrasive, multitonal, jagged wave throbs and scrapes. Shifting, drilling, buzzing and vibrating, pulsating and throbbing and rattling, clattering, battering, beeping, rolling and scratching, it needles at the senses.
While sonically, the three experimental pieces are well-suited to vinyl, the fact the first track, ‘Absence’ is split over the first two sides is something of an impedance to the flow. I’m not averse to getting off my arse and turning over a platter, but it’s a chew when a track’s cut in the middle. So, in a way, I’m also pleased to experience the album in its digital form, which is still mastered as four separate tracks. Decomposition I-III is an album best taken in a single sitting – not because it’s easy, but because the full impact and resonance of the deep-delving sonic excavations have the greatest impact when digested in this fashion.