Shhpuma – SS028LP

Christopher Nosnibor

Perihelion may be MIR 8’s debut, but the collective consists of respected veterans of the musical underground, with a lineup consisting of Andrea Belfi (drums, percussion), Tim Wright (computer, electronics), Werner Dafeldecker (function generators, bass) and Hilary Jeffery (trombone).

For those unfamiliar with the term, and / or too lazy to look it up, perihelion is ‘the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is closest to the sun’. If the notion of translating the experience of such a journey into sound seems more than a challenge, then MIR 8’s approach is very much non-literal, with the album’s four expansive movements formed from spectral abstraction, leading the listener on a journey which is cerebral rather than physical.

Sparse notes chime, ringing out in the near emptiness. A mournful trombone note stretches out and elongates to near unrecognizability. This is a work of minimalism in terms of volume and spatial exploration, but in terms of things going on, a lot happens, just at distant intervals. Eerie, otherworldly notes ripple and ring into one another against indeterminate hums and drones. These are not linear compositions, the structures vague and informal and without regularity or definite shape. Everything exists within the incidentals, and everything is incidental.

The pace is sedate, but on ‘Scarborough Sky’ the various sounds rub together at an increased pace and affect a creeping tension with subtle dissonances and frequencies which touch – delicately but definitely – on the more sensitive ranges of the human ear, to discomfiting effect.

An interminably elongated note hangs through the first moments of ‘De Orbit’; subtle yet busy percussion begins to patter in the background, distant cymbal crash and as the depth of the sound builds, the effect is like listening to something very loud from a long way away. Heavy, single notes sound out like a ship’s horn from miles out to sea. At some point, the rhythm stops. Detonations rupture still air before bleeding into ‘Event Horizon’. The final track contains the most overtly conventional elements of rock and jazz, with a bas / snare beat underpinning some roaming, spaced-out freeform brass honks. But these elements by no means make for a conventional composition, as the elements exist with the sense of doing so independently of one another, before gradually being swallowed in reverb and muffling.

As a whole, Perihelion is a subtle, nuanced work. It’s distinguished by the attention to detail to the way in which the individual sounds relate to one another, and how their shifting places of divergence and convergence, create different sensations.

 

MIR 8 – Perihelion

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