Gaëtan Gromer – Noise Level

Posted: 16 October 2016 in Albums
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VoxxoV Records – VXVCD011 – 19th September 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The purpose, primarily, behind Aural Aggravation, was to give coverage to niche music produced by lesser-known artists and little labels. The idea was also to publish reviews geared toward a more long-form format, favouring more journalistic analyses than the soundbite snippets which dominate the mainstream music press (such as it exists now) and many of the more popular websites. Ultimately, of course, the ambition was to run a site which gave myself, as founder / editor and main contributor, free reign, to write about what I liked in a way I liked. It wasn’t so much the cliché that if other people liked it, it’s a bonus: I figure that if I like it, there’s an audience for it somewhere.

Vindication of this approach hasn’t just been in the traffic we’ve received – Aural Aggro will never achieve world-domination but after a year in existence, it’s built a steady and respectable readership – but in the labels and artists who’ve sought us out to submit releases for review because they like what we do. It’s mighty gratifying, and has led to the discovery of some fantastic acts and labels, too.

And so it was that microlabel VoxxoV found us and put their eleventh album, Noise Level by French artist Gaëtan Gromer our way. It’s about drone, noise and ambient music, and that’s what we dig here – amongst other things.

Noise Level is an album to get lost in, but also an album to listen to. The detail is what matters. For what seems like an eternity, so little happens/ but of course, a little is a world away from nothing. Then, amidst the elongated drones, small sounds, water-like drips and ripples disturb the tranquil surface. Barely audible, indecipherable vocal snippets and samples crackle through the airwaves. Notes bubble, drift and turn, wafting formlessly, invisible yet present, the subtlest ebb and flow forms an other-worldly soundscape. Burs of sharp static interfere with the flow, but fail to break out of the shadows. Gradually, so gradually, the notes turn and mutate, pulsate and undulate. Scratches of treble scour away and roughen the edges. Insectoid skitters flicker and clamour as circuitry bleeps, sonar calls and responses. Long, drawling notes sigh in resigned anguish on ‘Le Bibliotheque de Babel’.

The warmth hinted at by the soft-edged swells of sounds on the album’s final track, the ten-minute ‘Always Coming Home’ are countered by grazing guitar drones and clattering, arrhythmic percussive ruptures. Over time, it builds in volume and intensity, the guitar coming to the fore as the album’s only recognisable instrument, a bruising, dense mass of sound bringing the album to a powerful close. With this, Gromer is done, and goes whistling on his way.


Gaëtan Gromer – Noise Level

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